South Bend

'She was a fighter' -- Sister of Starke Co. murder victim speaks with WSBT

Published On: Jun 06 2014 04:44:45 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 09 2014 10:00:15 AM CDT

WSBT has new information on a death and crime spree that started in Starke County Friday.


WSBT has new information on a death and crime spree that started in Starke County Friday.

Police say Kimberly Chavez, 50, of Portage was found dead in Knox at the home of her estranged husband, Gary Chavez.

Police say Gary is also suspected of carjacking a vehicle at gunpoint outside Bailey's Discount Center in North Judson. Before it was all over, he carjacked two more vehicles.

By the time he got to Lake County, police were closing in and he shot himself. As of Sunday night, he's in an Illinois hospital in the surgical intensive care unit.

Meantime, Kim's family just learned of her death Saturday. Kim's sister says Kim had been married to Gary for 20 plus years and although the couple was not legally divorced, they been separated for about three years. Her family is now in disbelief and a state of shock.

Dawn Eidman saw the news report on television about the woman who had been killed Friday in Starke county, but she had no idea it was her sister, Kim Chavez.

"I never dreamed he would just kill somebody," Dawn said. "It was never anything we ever worried about."

It wasn't until yesterday that she learned from police her sister was dead Kim's estranged husband, Gary Chavez, was the murder suspect.

"She was a fighter," Dawn said. "She would have fought til the end for her life."

Dawn says up until recently the two lived together in Portage. They had been married for 20 plus years. Dawn described the marriage as miserable and says the two split about a year ago, with Gary moving to Knox.

"He basically just couldn't get over her, he would not get over here," Dawn said. "It's like if I cant have her no one can situation so to speak."

She says Kim took care of Gary after he had a tumor removed. On Thursday, one day before the killing, Dawn says Gary called her and started talking "out of his mind." She says he called Kim the next day, saying he was dying. He asked if she would go with him to the hospital. Kim agreed. That was the last time Dawn ever heard from her sister.

"She ran out to Knox to take him to hospital and that is where the story ends as far as we know," Dawn said.

That same day, Friday, police found Kim's body in Gary's home. Family members say this was never something they saw coming.

"He was family," Dawn said. "He was my kids' uncle, not something we ever dreamed would have happened."

"He was running around with a gun, hijacking people, which is completely out of his character," Dawn said. "I thought he loved her so much he couldn't kill her. I just don't understand how someone could do this. I feel like this is surreal, like I am going to wake up from a bad dream."

Kim Chavez worked as a medical assistant in Portage. Gary was a concrete finisher. Kim leaves behind three adult children, but she and Gary had no children together.