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Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

GRETNA, La. -- The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office says it doesn't appear a pregnant 23-year-old woman struggled with her killer before she was strangled to death and then stabbed.

'If I would have heard I would have helped that lady because that's two lives gone. That's a child and a mother,' said neighbor Sonta Hebert.

On Monday traces of where investigators dusted a door frame for fingerprints the day before could still be spotted through an open Gretna window.

Hebert lives a few doors down from Katherine Martinez. The 23-year-old was murdered inside her apartment early Sunday morning in the 600 block of Whitney Avenue.

'She was always friendly. She waved and I waved back,' said Hebert of her neighbor.

'The mother actually told our investigators on Saturday night about 11 p.m. she was suppose to be picked up by her daughter at Louis Armstrong Airport,' said Col. John Fortunato with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office.

Authorities say when Martinez didn't show up to the airport, her mother and a concerned friend rushed over to her Gretna apartment complex. When their calls and knocks weren't answered, they broke down the door to find Martinez on the kitchen floor.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office says Martinez was strangled to death and stabbed hours before being discovered by family, then police.

The sheriff's office confirms her mother told investigators the community college student was in her third trimester.

Authorities say when EMS arrived they found the young mom and her unborn child dead.

'According to the doctor who conducted the autopsy this [Monday] morning, they actually determined that she died of the result of being strangled and not the injuries sustained in the knife wounds,' Fortunato said.

According to Jefferson Parish Coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich an autopsy shows the fetus was never injured during the stabbing.

With no signs of forced entry and the killer locking the door on the way out, investigators have a theory.

'No other signs of someone being able to get into the apartment other than coming through the front door that she may in fact have known her assailant,' Fortunato said.

Whoever cut this expectant mother's life short, Hebert can't help but feel like it was likely a crime of passion.

'To me something would have set this person off to do something like this. Gotten into a heated argument or something for someone to stab this lady and kill her fetus too,' said Hebert.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office says the killer in this case faces homicide and infanticide charges.

So far, there are no known suspects or motive. If you can help detectives solve this case call JP Homicide Detectives at 504-364-5300 or Crimestoppers at: 504-821-1111.

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