NJ woman planned to leave abusive spouse days before he killed her, friend says
BLAIRSTOWN — Julie Matte had decided to leave her husband — but the 46-year-old never got the chance. That's what the woman's grieving friend — one of the last people the slaying victim spoke to — now says.
Moments after calling 911 to report that she was being attacked by her husband in their rural Warren County home, Matte was shot and killed.
Police found the body of her husband — 55-year-old videographer Edward Aghahowa — hours later and miles away in his car. Police said he shot himself.
Police had no record of domestic disturbances at the Cherry Tree Lane house the couple had called home since 2002.
That is, until Wednesday.
But at least one of Matte's friends says she knew better. Just days before her slaying, Matte confided to the friend that her husband was abusive, that she feared for her life, and that she finally had decided to leave him, the friend told New Jersey 101.5.
Matte opened up to her friend over the weekend in Texas during a convention the two attended for the health-and-wellness products they sold for a living, she said.
"She was afraid that he had followed her there (to Texas), that he was stalking her," according to the woman, who New Jersey 101.5 agreed not to identify because she is a survivor of domestic violence and is concerned about her own safety.
"She said that I had inspired her to finally leave him and that she was going to follow through with that. She was very afraid of him. I don’t how far she had gone to protect herself."
Matte's friend said she called her earlier this week after Matte returned from the trip to see whether she had found a safe place to go.
"Unfortunately, she wasn't able to," her friend said Thursday in a telephone interview. "These are the most dangerous times, when you leave an abuser."
About 40 people every year lose their lives to domestic violence in the state, according to the New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence.
The nonprofit agency last year helped shelter nearly 1,500 victims and more than 1,500 children. Its hotline answered nearly 93,000 calls from people seeking help.
The agency's 24-hour free hotline for victims and their supporters is 1-800-572-SAFE.
State Police ask anyone with information about Matte's case to call their Homicide North Unit at 973-785-9412 ext. 4320. Police welcome anonymous tips.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.