Family of missing Lyford woman found dead disagree with suicide autopsy

Norma Hernandez is walking the path where she says her late-sister Maria would walk almost every evening from her Lyford home.

"I can see her walking," she said. "I feel her with me."

She's taking the mile-long trek with flowers in one hand.

"I have red roses showing love from family," she said.

There's a candle in Norma's other hand.

"It's to show her the light towards heaven."

She bringing them with her to honor her sibling at the spot where she was found dead over the weekend.

"I wanted to take the last walk that she did," Norma said. "This is my closure."

The 10-day search for the 41-year-old ended in a brushy area where the Lyford water tower can still be seen to the west.

Norma ducks under a few trees and has to watch her step once or twice before making it to where a makeshift memorial now sits.

It's an emotional moment for Norma who kneels beside a white cross, places down her flowers and lights the candle.

She remembers the good times she had with Maria growing up.

"She was always smiling," Norma recalled. "She was always asking how you were doing."

Because Maria's body was found outside the Lyford city limits, the Willacy County Sheriff's Office has picked up the investigation.

Sheriff Larry Spence says the initial autopsy report indicates she died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Maria's family is not ready to call it a suicide.

"Everybody says she had a mental illness and that she was suicidal... to me that's not her," Norma said. "I think something happened to her."

Authorities have all but ruled out foul play.

They used a metal detector on Monday to try and locate the bullet casing from a gun found under Maria's body.

Norma says it will be difficult to find closure with questions surrounding her death still unanswered.

She believes somebody may have pushed her emotionally over the edge.

A funeral for Maria Hernandez is scheduled for Tuesday at 10am.

It'll be held at the Prince of Peace in Lyford with burial to follow at Evergreen Cemetery.

The family is asking for help with funeral expenses.

If you can take action, make a donation at Valley Federal Credit Union under the name Maria Hernandez in care of her sister Norma Hernandez. Click here to join Ryan Wolf TMs Facebook PageClick here to follow Ryan Wolf on Twitter