Phoenix, Arizona – A man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for the brutal killing of his estranged, pregnant wife and their unborn child. Gilbert Villareal, 36, received his sentence this week from Maricopa County prosecutors. In addition, Villareal has been subject to five lifetime injunctions, preventing him from contacting the victim’s family. He pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, both class one dangerous felonies.
The tragic incident took place on March 26, 2012, when neighbors heard a woman screaming for help before she was discovered dead outside an apartment. The victim’s 2-year-old son was found at the scene, crying “daddy,” unaware of his father’s role in the crime. While the toddler was unharmed, his tiny bloody footprints served as a harrowing reminder of the violence.
This fatal act of domestic violence was the culmination of a year-long pattern of abuse and manipulation inflicted by Villareal upon his wife, Sheila Lomes, who was attempting to leave the relationship at the time of her murder. Lomes had sought an emergency protection order against Villareal months earlier in an effort to safeguard herself and her children.
Tia Carrick, Lomes’ sister-in-law, tearfully lamented the tragedy, expressing her belief that someone could have intervened to prevent the devastating outcome. “Somebody is going to get killed, and it was going to be Sheila,” she shared. “And then it was. That’s something that really haunts me every single day.”
Following the murder, Villareal fled to Mexico, evading authorities for several years. He was eventually apprehended in Cancun on December 21, 2016, after being involved in another stabbing incident. Mexican authorities subsequently discovered that Villareal was wanted in the United States for the double murder. After serving a prison sentence in Mexico, he was extradited to the U.S. in 2019, where he faced charges for his heinous crimes.
The lengthy process of Villareal’s extradition involved the cooperation of multiple agencies, including the U.S. Marshals Service, Interpol, and the Phoenix Police Department. County Attorney Rachel Mitchell commended the relentless efforts of the legal team and the support staff in ensuring Villareal’s return to the U.S. for prosecution.
As the case concludes, Mitchell emphasized the lasting impact on the victim’s young child, who witnessed the horrific crime. She expressed hope that as the child grows older, he will come to understand the multitude of individuals who fought for justice on his behalf.
This tragic case serves as a poignant reminder of the devastating consequences of domestic violence and the importance of providing support and protection to victims in need.