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PHOENIX (CBS5) -
Gilbert Martinez was just 8 years old when he saw something no child should ever see.
"The door was locked, but her car was there," recalled Gilbert, who is now 15 years old. "Everything was locked - the back door, the front door - except the garage and that's how I got inside. So I went in and heard the bathtub running. I thought she was taking a shower. I eventually found her."
Gilbert's mother, Sophia Nunez, had been shot in the head. The killer left her lifeless body in the bathtub for her son to discover. He has never spoken publicly about his mom's murder until now.
"And sometimes no one knows how I feel about it," Gilbert said. "No one has experienced that at such a young age."
It would be months later that police would link Nunez's murder to the Baseline killings.
In the meantime, the violence continued and other children lost their mothers.
And the families of the victims began their long struggle to come to grips with their tragedies.
"It's one of the hardest things when I walked into the house because I couldn't tell the kids their mom was gone," said Alvin Hogue, whose wife, Romelia Vargas, was murdered. "I didn't know how to do it."
Hogue's twin sons, Travis and Anthony, were just 4 months old when their mother was murdered. Now the twins are 7 years old. Anthony is a special-needs child. Travis still wonders about his mom.
"He always asks about his mother," Hogue said of Travis. "And I try and not dwell on it too much because of what happened to her. It's still very hard for him not to have a mom. He goes to school and he sees his schoolmates, their moms picking them up, and he doesn't have one."
Other families also struggled to make sense out of the string of senseless murders and rapes that were piling up.
"For us, she will always be in our hearts," said Juana Sanchez, whose daughter, Liliana, was murdered on her way home from work.
Sanchez said she rarely talks about her daughter's murder. It has affected her so much that she has a hard time remembering any happy memories.
"I used to, but I don't anymore. Everything is different," Sanchez said.
Eventually, a police task force closed in on a suspect, Mark Goudeau, and arrested him for the Baseline killings. He had no connection to any of the victims, except one - Sophia Nunez.
"I had seen him when he got arrested on TV and I told my dad he looked familiar," Unique Martinez said. "It was one of my mom's friends. We had seen him out at the mall."
Unique Martinez was 16 years old at the time. Unlike her brother, Gilbert, she remembers her mom spending time with Goudeau. He even came to the house and installed a security door.
"Everything kind of flashes back to me because I was with that guy for a little bit by myself," she said. "That's really scary."
The emotional scars among Sophia Nunez's three children are apparent. None of them has ever talked publicly about what happened to their family.
Martinez, now 23, picked a distinctive manner with which to deal with her mother's death: a rap song.
A sampling of the lyrics reveals the torment, confusion, emptiness and anger she feels.
I'm twisted, tormented in many ways I've got a heart full of pain with a mind full of rage The verdict was confusin' but this man will pay ...
See he was trying to prove that he can kill By taking my mother This cannot be real What's the motive Mark? Why go so low? I know you seen the pictures of the family on her walls Yet you did not seem to care at all ...
One blow to the head She fell dead Do you remember the last words that she said as she begged for her life? Do you hear them in your dreams when you sleep at night? How do you sleep at night knowing what you did? Invading a woman's home Taking mother's from the kids
But the murder also changed the courses of the children's lives.
"I was 21 at the time," said Nunez's daughter, Krystal Gonzalez. "I got home and got a call and then everything went downhill from there. And then I didn't know what I was doing. Two weeks later I was sitting there making decisions and I didn't know what I was doing. I had to plan everything from house to clothes to bills to every little thing."
Seven years later, they still have nightmares. They still break down in tears when they talk about their mom. And they still have unanswered questions.
"Why?" asked Libby Nunez-Rocha about her sister's murder. "If you knew her, you met her children, why would you do something like that to her? Why would you do something like that?"
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
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