Central Texas Native Murdered in California

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WHITNEY (September 6, 2013) - A well-known woman who grew up in Central Texas and graduated from Whitney High School was murdered in California on Labor Day and her husband is jailed for the crime.

Melanie Pate (Courtesy photo)

The death of Melanie Pate, 42, formerly Melanie Lawrence, has left holes in the hearts of many.

Waco resident Angela Jones was Pate's cousin and the two women grew up together in Whitney.

"We always had so much fun together," Jones said. "She was such an easy person to be around, just an instant friend to so many."

Police in California said Pate was murdered on Labor Day and they arrested her soon to be ex-husband, Todd Pate, after the killing.

Police said he slashed her throat and left her body in their swimming pool before calling police and confessing to the murder.

Pate had served her husband divorce papers days before her murder.

The estranged couple had been married for 22 years and had a 13-year-old son.

Pate was held Friday in a California jail without bond.

"That is the most heartbreaking thing," Jones said. "That her son is not only without her but also without a father in the picture."

Jones said she remembers her last conversation with Pate.

She said it was about two weeks ago over Facebook. Jones said she could not tell by Pate's tone that anything was wrong.

"We just talked about the kids going back to school," Jones said. "I didn't know anything was wrong. I didn't sense anything at the time."

A candlelight vigil dedicated to Pate was held earlier this week near her home in Hanford, Calif.

Hundreds turned out to show their support for the beloved mother who lived for youth sports, especially her son's baseball team.

Jones said friends in Central Texas are planning on another memorial for Pate to be held in her hometown of Whitney.