Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- She was known as the "candy lady," affectionately nicknamed for selling treats to children in the community where she'd lived for decades.
But Sunday, the heinous murder of Alba Valladares, 72, sent shockwaves through her Algiers neighborhood.
Grieving family members stood stunned outside Valladares' home in the 100 block of Pinewood Court. Two young people looking to buy sweets discovered her body around 1 o'clock Sunday afternoon.
Family members said she was found in her kitchen with her throat slit and cuts throughout her body. They said there was no sign of forced entry.
"For somebody to take her life like that, so heinously, just, you know, think it through, man. That was somebody's grandmother, somebody's aunt, somebody's mother. I can honestly say that she was mother to a lot of kids out here on these streets," said Oscar Gale, Valladares' nephew.
Family members said Valladares was a fixture in her neighborhood. Those who knew her say she was a giving woman who would allow most anyone into her home.
"They might not have money to purchase something, and my aunt was one of those ladies that would just give it to them," said Gale.
And that's why, for Valladares' family, her murder is especially chilling.
"The person came in with the intentions because they robbed her purse, and they knew where she kept money to give them change," said Valladares' sister, Maritza Gale.
Valladares' son said his mother had been robbed at gunpoint before, but wouldn't tell anybody who did it and still allowed that person to come in her home to buy candy. She told her son she wanted to better that person's life.
"She had so much trust in everyone in this neighborhood, she trusted everyone," said Maritza Gale.
An animal lover who always had a smile, family members say Valladares' senseless murder should have never happened.
"Just a plea to everybody out there, man, just stop the violence, just, please, I hear it all day everyday, and now it's touched home," said Oscar Gale.
"Who she was, the candy lady, the candy lady is gone now," said Maritza Gale.
Family members said there was no sign of forced entry.
If you have any information, you're asked to call Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111. You don't have to leave your name and could get a cash reward.
This murder is reminiscent of another on the Westbank several years ago. Louis Perreira, 73, known as the "candy man" for selling treats to neighborhood children, was shot in the head in his Marrero home during a home invasion.