The body of Estela Sanchez was found in a ditch in east Harris County. Now, investigators believe she may have been murdered.
JESSICA WILEY: The Harris County Medical Examiner has not yet ruled on cause of death for Estela Sanchez, but homicide investigators believe she was murdered. They are looking for any information that could help them with this case. Her daughter lost her father in November and now this.
SAMANTHA CASTILLO: I hope we find who did it.
JESSICA WILEY: A day after she celebrated a very bittersweet 21st birthday--
SAMANTHA CASTILLO: We made the best of it, family got together.
JESSICA WILEY: Samantha Castillo met us to talk about the mother she's missed for years.
SAMANTHA CASTILLO: She was always warm-hearted, she was very loving.
JESSICA WILEY: This picture taken from her fourth birthday, a young Samantha with mom Estela Sanchez, before her mother made the difficult decision to let go.
SAMANTHA CASTILLO: There's always a reason and I never hold it against her. I understand that we all have things going on in our life.
JESSICA WILEY: Still, so many years later Samantha was the first one notified that her mother had been murdered. 40-year-old Sanchez, just found lying in a ditch early Saturday morning in the Clover Leaf area of East Harris County. Homicide investigator said she had trauma to her face. There have been no arrests.
SAMANTHA CASTILLO: It's hard. It hurts. Because regardless of the time that I hadn't talked to her, that was my mom. And at one point in my life she was there for me.
VANESSA VILLARREAL: It was just a ball in my throat, I just-- I couldn't believe it. Not my friend. I didn't-- I didn't believe it at first. Not my friend, not her.
JESSICA WILEY: Vanessa Villarreal had been friends with Sanchez for 30 years. Her death was shocking.
VANESSA VILLARREAL: Laying in the rain like, you know, the way they described how they found her, it's not right.
JESSICA WILEY: She made getting in touch with her daughter a priority to tell her this.
VANESSA VILLARREAL: I promise you she loved you. Like she always talked about her, she always did--
JESSICA WILEY: Now, both women want the same thing. Justice for a woman who was giving.
VANESSA VILLARREAL: She would go take care of my grandfather for me, and my grandfather just adored her. Like everybody she got around, like they just felt her energy.
JESSICA WILEY: And for a daughter who now only has memories.
SAMANTHA CASTILLO: I hope we find who did it. I hope whoever did it, you know, gets what they have coming to them.
JESSICA WILEY: Jessica Wiley, ABC13, Eyewitness News.