Man accused of killing girlfriend: Victim’s family says abuse was hidden

Avondale man accused of killing girlfriend

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A hardworking mother of three is dead and the man she loved is behind bars, accused of strangling her. Now, the victim’s family is speaking out saying someone could have stopped it.

Marquita Westbrook’s daughters, sister, and cousins are all heartbroken knowing that they will never see the 36-year-old’s face again. The mother was recently found unresponsive in her boyfriend’s home on the 600 block of Forest Avenue in Avondale.

Westbrook’s family says they first got a call Wednesday morning saying that Westbrook choked in her sleep.

“When I was told that she died in her sleep I was OK, but I knew in the pit of my stomach that it just ain’t right. Something ain’t right,” said Queen Pass, who is a cousin of Westbrook.

Police later told the family that Westbrook was murdered and that the man responsible was her boyfriend, 40-year-old Rico Murph.

“When we got that call that it actually happened from him choking her that was like another knife in our heart. Like we had to relive that grief all over again. It hurt us because she didn’t deserve to die that way,” said Pass.

Niema Westbrook says her sister was a paralegal working for the Cochran Firm and was a hard working mother of three girls whose ages are 9, 16, and 19. Niema says her sister dated Murph off and on for the past four years.

The family says they just recently learned that the victim was being abused. They say it had been hidden, and that Marquita Westbrook was afraid for her life.

Pass says the thing that hurts the most is that the victim and Murph were not in the house alone the morning she was killed -- and no one stepped in to help. The victim’s family says they not only want to see Murph punished but they want the other people in the house to be charged as well.

“We want justice and until we get justice there will be no peace within us,” said Pass.

The homicide investigation is still underway. Murph is being held at the Hamilton County Justice Center on a $1 million bond. He is expected to be back in court on April 1.

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