TAMPA, Fla. - "Nobody deserves to go through this. Nobody," Chris Robles said fighting back the tears.
Ashley Atherley's family knew her marriage was abusive. For years, the Robles had tried to get her to leave. But even their wildest nightmares couldn't have predicted this.
"What he did to this beautiful angel that had so much love in her heart, and not a mean bone in her body, is just indescribable," said Ashley's stepfather Rick Robles.
On Sunday, the 28-year-old originally from Tampa Bay was found beaten and stabbed to death in a bathroom in California. Her husband, Edly Atherley, was nowhere to be found. San Bernardino police say he's their number one suspect.
"This man is an animal. He has a rotted heart and he needs to suffer for what he did to her," Ashley's mother Lucia Robles said in a news conference on Thursday in California.
Local records show Atherley was arrested back in 2008 for domestic battery. Her family tells us that's when the violence really started to unfold.
The couple, along with their two young girls, moved to California in 2012. Her family last saw her in June when they say she came back to Florida trying to escape.
"It almost seemed like a matter of time before we got a call, not to this extent, but that something was going to be wrong," Ashley's brother Chris Robles said.
"We tried every avenue we possibly could to get her out of it, but once the kids came into the picture her life was to make that family work," said Rick Robles.
Police are still searching for Atherley. Ashley's family fears he may try to come to Florida.
According to KABC, he was last seen Wednesday night trying to buy a Metrolink ticket in San Bernardino. But when a security guard approached him, he fled.
Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact the police department immediately.
Ashley's family hopes somewhere in this tragic tale, there's a lesson to be learned. In a statement to ABC Action News they wrote:
"Our life's work will be to call attention to the serious issue of domestic violence and the danger that is inherently involved. Our plea right now is for any victim who has been encouraged by their family and friends to seek help, to hear us when we say that your life is danger. Lean on your family and please get help from a domestic violence agency in your community who can help you know how to leave...don't try to figure it out on your own. Trying to find a nice way to leave cost Ashley her life."