GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The family of a slain Gulfport woman is finding closure after her accused killer is arrested. Willie Cenalas, 34, has been charged with the murder of Tammy Brown, 52. Brown was found dead in her 11th Street apartment on March 2. Her cause of death was ruled strangulation.
"I'm feeling great today. Now we can put some closure," said Alice Barkum.
Alice Barkum is Tammy Brown's aunt. She lived just two doors down from her, and says she was one of the first people to find her niece's lifeless body.
"That was my niece. She lived right there in number three. She would come and knock on my window every day," said Barkum.
According to police, Brown was strangled to death in her apartment. Twelve days later, they arrested Willie Cenalas for her murder. The apartment complex did have surveillance cameras; Barkum thinks they may have helped police make an arrest.
"He could have gotten away. So, I thank the Gulfport Police Department, the detectives who worked so diligently on her behalf," said Barkum.
Family members say they didn't know Cenalas, and aren't sure what his relationship was to Brown, but police say the two were familiar acquaintances.
"It's really hard knowing that someone can just take a life like that. It's been really hard just thinking about that," said John Brown.
Brown, who is the victim's sister, says she was full of life, and they want her to be remembered that way.
"I want to remember her as somebody who participated every week in church. She was a greeter at the church, Little Rock Baptist Church and I want them to remember her as someone who was outgoing," said Brown.
Brown's aunt says she was a people person, and loved children.
"Happy-go-lucky man. I mean, family-oriented, loved family, friends, little kids. These kids around here are going to truly miss her," said Barkum.
Brown was laid to rest at Little Rock Missionary Baptist Church in Gulfport on Friday. Cenalas' bond has been set at $2 million.