MONTEVIDEO -- Family members of Vinessa Lozano remain stunned and angry over her death, but also determined to seek justice, they said Tuesday.
Family members and friends of the 18-year-old stabbing victim and mother gathered at the Chippewa county courthouse as the man accused of killing her made his first court appearance.
Darek Jon Nelson, 24, faces charges of second degree murder, first degree manslaughter and second-degree assault. It is believed a grand jury will be convened to consider first degree murder charges.
"It's hard,'' said Eric Lozano of Willmar, father of the victim. He said he last spoke to his daughter on New Year's Day, and had no reason to suspect that she could be in any danger.
"There is so much anger, hate,'' said Lozano. "It's hard when they take a child away from you.'''
Lozano said he wishes Minnesota had the death penalty.
"Justice has to be served for Vinessa,'' said Robin Savoy of Montevideo, the victim's mother. She and the victim's step-father said they have been overwhelmed by support from the Montevideo community, and that is helping them through the hurt.
Father, mother and step-father alike said no one could possibly have foreseen what happened. While Darek Nelson had apparent feelings for Vinessa, they said she did not have any feelings toward him.
She talked about him no differently than she did about other co-workers and friends, said Robin Savoy. Co-workers told her that they too were equally shocked and unprepared for what happened.
Robin and Dalton Savoy are caring for Lozano's 18-month old surviving son, Carson. She was attending Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Granite Falls with an interest in a nursing career. She worked at the Pizza Ranch and as a nurse's aide at Luther Haven in Montevideo.
"She worked with the elderly and the handicapped,'' said her step-father, Dalton Savoy. "She just had a compassion for the guy as a human being, but he took it obviously as much more, but nobody saw it. Nobody saw that building up or anything.''
At the court proceeding, the parents of the defendant sat in front of the Savoys. The Savoys said afterwards that both couples are supporting one another.
"They are losing someone just like we are,'' said Robin Savoy.
Funds are being established to help the families with expenses and as a memorial to the victim. A fund has been established at the Co-op Credit Union in Montevideo in Vinessa Lozano's name. Eric Lozano is hoping a similar account can be established at a Willmar bank and plans to place donation jars at various business locations in town.