BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - It's been four years since the murder of Ruby Moreno's mother. Maria Sanchez was murdered in October of 2013 at the hands of her husband.
"She was kind and giving and she loved her kids", said Moreno.
Sgt. Ryan Kroeker was the lead investigator at the scene.
"The children were coming in and out of living room and there was an altercation. Mr. Cortez did strike Maria which lead to her becoming unconscious and ultimately was the cause of her death", said Kroeker.
Ruby became the sole provider for her siblings, working two jobs to support her brothers and sisters.
"It was hard especially not knowing where the two little ones would go", said Moreno.
Ruby says she never witnessed any abuse between her mother and step-father but the warning signs were there.
"I remember seeing her left ear scraped and I asked her what happened and she said she fell, it was questionable but my mom was telling me that's what happened and I believed it", said Moreno.
It's estimated that around 1 in 5 children have been exposed to domestic abuse, and a third of children witnessing domestic violence also experienced another form of abuse.
"It's cases like this you don't just put away, which I think is one of the reasons why it lead to the relationship between myself and family and Maria's children", said Kroeker.
Sgt. Kroeker stood by the family during their darkest hour.
"I remember we went over their house and we got some money and bought them all Christmas presents. We sat and talked and it a was fun for a little, even though it was their first Christmas without their mother", said Kroeker.
"I know I can go to him if I ever need to talk to someone or I know he's there", said Moreno.
Ruby hopes her story will let others know they are not alone and give them the courage to speak up.
"Its not really talked about but the more people speak the more it'll bring awareness", said Moreno.
Jorge Cortez was convicted in the death of Maria and is serving a 15 year sentence at Wasco State Prison.