Linda Broudreaux stood on the shore of Malaga Cove Beach in Palos Verdes Estates, took a deep breath of ocean air and thought of her late mother.
This spot, below the cliffs and on the sand, had been her favorite.
But it was also where investigators believe the young mother, Teresa Fematt, took her last breath.
“It’s just so peaceful and beautiful,” Broudreaux said Monday, Oct. 28. “It was good to see after all of these years.”
It’s been nearly 40 years since the 44-year-old Broudreaux last saw her mother, who has also been referred to as Teresa Broudreaux. The 20-year-old from Wilmington, who was five months pregnant with Broudreaux’s half-sister, was found dead at the cove by a surfer on March 4, 1980.
Teresa Fematt was found bloodied and bruised, wearing nothing except knee socks. It was determined she died of a massive blow to the head and a medical examiner found defensive wounds on her fingers.
The case had gone cold for decades, leaving the young mother’s family heartbroken and frustrated. But on Monday, members of Teresa’s Fematt’s family said they feel they’ve gotten closure.
Robert Allan Yniquez, 67, of San Pedro, on Monday was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for Teresa Fematt’s murder at the Torrance Courthouse.
In 2013, the registered sex offender’s DNA was linked to a single sperm head found in Teresa Fematt’s public hair and was arrested in 2017. Yniguez plead no contest to second-degree murder last month.
He showed no emotion and stared straight ahead at his sentencing.
Broudreaux and Ronnie Fematt, Tesera Fematt’s husband of five months, gave victim impact statements about how the death changed their lives.
Ronnie Fematt, who was 21 at the time of his wife’s death, said he nearly crumbled mourning his wife and unborn child, while being under the shadow of suspicion of the crime.
“It basically ruined my life, because they didn’t have a suspect,” he said to the court. “They focused on me the whole time.”
Ronnie Fematt recalled going to the mortuary to identify Teresa Fematt, which he said still haunts him today. Her face was so damaged, he said, that he could identify her from a rose tattoo with her name on her finger.
He decided it would be best to hold a closed-casket funeral because of her condition.
“I didn’t want anyone else to have to see what had happened to her,” Ronnie Fematt said. “She was a fighter, she fought for her life and her daughter’s life. In her rage, that happened to her. He disfigured her face forever, killed her and left her to die.”
Ronnie Fematt said that his unborn daughter’s name was Sofia, after his mother.
“I never got a chance to be a father to that little girl,” he said.
Meanwhile, Broudreaux, who was 4 at the time of the murder, was taken from her stepfather’s custody to live with other family members.
Broudreaux’s childhood was rough, going in and out of foster care, she said.
“(My mother) never got to see my first day of school, she didn’t get to see her first grandchild born,” Broudreaux said through tears. “She wasn’t at my wedding and my children will never get to meet their grandmother.”
After the sentencing, Broudreaux said she was glad that Yniguez was behind bars but that “no amount of time is ever going to be enough, he got to live his life.”
Outside of the courtroom, Broudreaux and Ronnie Fematt embraced one another. While Broudreaux has one memory left of living with her mother and stepfather, it wasn’t until Yniguez was linked to the crime that the two reconnected.
“Everyone told me that he was the one who did it,” Broudreaux said. “My whole life, I thought that he was the one.”
But, she said while hugging him after the sentencing, “no one’s ever going to separate us again.”
It isn’t known whether Yniguez knew Teresa Fematt, or if he knew that Malaga Cove Beach was one of her favorite places to visit.
In a series of interviews with investigators, officials said Yniquez denied being involved.
But after the sentencing, about 15 family members of Teresa Fematt went to the cove where her body was found to celebrate her life.
They brought an arrangement of white flowers in the shape of a cross, along with two bouquets for Teresa Famett and Sofia.
Although her mother’s been gone for nearly four decades, Broudreaux said it feels good to finally have closure.
“We got to make peace and kind of say our goodbyes,” she said. “It was a release.”