INDIO, Calif. - Valerie Silveira has waited since August 2016 for answers. That's when her daughter, Jamie Maher, was killed. She was found at a home in Indio with multiple gunshot wounds.
No suspect arrests were made at the time of her death. Silveira said her family had accepted that they may never get the closure they wanted, but all that changed this last week.
Police took Marcos Cruz Gaeta, 38, into custody Friday, March 8 at a Circle K gas station at the intersection of Date Palm Drive and Ramon Road in Cathedral City.
Authorities said Gaeta was armed with a loaded handgun but was safely arrested by a task force of law enforcement agencies, including Indio, Hemet, Palm Springs, Corona and Beaumont police.
Silveira spoke exclusively with News Channel 3's Kelley Moody on Wednesday about her family's journey since the loss of her daughter.
"She was just really amazing, quick-witted," said Silveira, "Everything she did came so easy to her."
Silveira remembers Jamie full of life; a fierce athlete and a fearless woman.
Silveira is also the first to admit her daughter wasn't perfect. She says Jamie was an addict, spending time in and out of recovery throughout her life. She was also a victim of domestic abuse, suffering a near-fatal gunshot wound from an ex-boyfriend in Seattle, Washington, when she was 18.
"The bullet came in through the glass, through the blinds, and it maybe slowed it down slightly, so maybe that's why she didn't die that day," said Silviera.
But that was only the beginning.
"The ride on the rollercoaster from hell was about to get a lot worse," said Silveira.
The lowest point on that ride: August 28, 2016. When an officer delivered the news of Jamie's death, Silveira said she knew right away.
"You just say 'no' fifty times," said Silveira, "If you say 'no' enough times, maybe it won't be true."
Silveira works closely with Indio Police Department but said a lack of witnesses stalled the case, until last week when Gaeta was arrested. Silveira was there for his arraignment on Tuesday where he pleaded not guilty. Since Gaeta is accused of both Jamie Maher's murder and a second murder in Arizona, the trial timeline is unclear.
While the journey remains long for Silveira and her family, she continues on a new path, calling herself a courage coach.
"When he shot her, he blew a huge hole in my heart, and this hole will never heal. Ever. I'm not giving him anymore of me," Silveira said she has forgiven her daughter's accused killer.
She keeps Jamie close by too. Her ashes were scattered under a palm tree in her backyard where she likes to talk to her. She said if she could talk to Jamie now, she would tell her how proud she is of her, how much she loves her, and how grateful she is to be her mother.
If you are interested in attending Silveira's upcoming event, you can register online at this link: https://v.valeriesilveira.com/Events
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