Sarai Llanos Gomez was originally from Ecuador and moved to America last year in hopes of creating a better life.
According to Gomez’s mother, the 19-year-old single mother of two moved to the Atlanta area from Chicago with plans to find a waitressing job so she could send money back to her family.
However, her dreams ended tragically last month when her body was found in a wooded area in Hall County, Ga.
Authorities say she’d been murdered.
“Ms. Gomez’s body was found on Paradise Point Road on June 20, 2022,” the sheriff’s office confirmed on Tuesday. “Investigators determined Ms. Gomez was a victim of murder; however, there was nothing at the scene that immediately pointed to her identity. The ongoing investigation, including the release of a composite GBI sketch of the victim, led to her positive identification this week.”
Authorities say that they’re looking for a motive for her death, but those who knew her to say that she may have been killed because she turned down work as a sex worker.
Gomez had moved from Ecuador to Chicago in 2021 and had lived with family members while she worked at various restaurants. She recently moved to Atlanta after receiving a job offer to work as a waitress in a hotel, Telemundo reported.
Luis Veintimilla, with the Ecuadorian Consulate, said that the move to Atlanta might have cost the victim her life.
“From the little information we have, we know she was living alone,” Veintimilla told the station. “She didn’t have many friends here, but she did in Chicago. She had moved here to make more money as a waitress.”
Veintimilla told 11 Alive that the job was not what it seemed, it was a job as a sex worker.
On the day before she disappeared, Gomez called her mother and said that she had turned down the offer. It was the last time her family heard from her.
“Unfortunately, this is such a painful event for the family and us, and now it’s a waiting game until we get more details,” Veintimilla told 11 Alive.
On June 30, before Gomez was identified, authorities released a sketch of a man who they said might be a person of interest in Gomez’s death but gave no further details.
While investigators figure out what happened to Gomez, her family is trying to get her body returned to Ecuador for a proper burial.
“They want to send her body back to me in ashes,” her mother, Gardenia Gomez, tells 11 Alive. “I want her body. How else will I know it’s really her?”
Anyone with information on the matter is urged to contact the Hall County Sheriff’s Office at 770-531-6900.