The Indiana teenager accused of stabbing his pregnant schoolmate to death and tossing her body in the trash is “far from being a monster,” his aunt told The Daily Beast.
Aaron Trejo, a 16-year-old football player in Mishawaka, was arrested Sunday after the body of Breana Rouhselang was discovered in a dumpster near her home. He’s charged with one count of murder and one count of feticide.
In court Tuesday, Trejo entered a preliminary plea of not guilty. The high-schooler, who will be tried as an adult, is being held without bond. Relatives declined to speak to reporters but were visibly upset before and after the proceeding, WSBT 22 reported.
Trejo’s aunt, Alexzaundra Patton-Manu, told The Daily Beast his family is “in complete shock.”
“This is not him. This is not in his character,” said Patton-Manu, who is the sister of Trejo’s mother and lives in California. “Everybody’s still in shock.”
“They had no clue. Nobody had a clue what’s going on with him,” the relative added.
A probable cause affidavit detailed how Trejo allegedly carried out a plot to murder 17-year-old Breana, who was a manager on the football team and carrying his child.
According to the affidavit, Trejo told detectives that Breana didn’t inform him of the pregnancy in time to get an abortion. At the time of her death, Breana was six months pregnant, her mother told police.
“Aaron acknowledged that he was aware of Breana’s pregnancy and that he was supposed to be the father of the baby,” the document states. “Aaron stated that neither he nor Breana wanted to have the baby.”
“I took action,” Trejo allegedly said in his confession to cops. “I took her life.”
Trejo said he stabbed Breana in the heart “because he thought it would kill [her] quickly,” the affidavit alleges.
The extent of Trejo’s relationship with Breana—a cheerleader, softball coach and football team manager—remains unclear.
On Monday, Breana’s father and stepmother told The Daily Beast that they’d never met or heard of Trejo before and didn’t know Breana was pregnant.
The police affidavit, however, suggests Breana’s mother knew Trejo was the father of her daughter’s unborn child. (Breana lived with her mother, who told police her daughter spoke with Trejo in the alley behind their house just before she died.)
As for Trejo’s family, Patton-Manu told The Daily Beast that Trejo’s parents didn’t know about Breana, and said she wasn’t a girlfriend who came over to his house. “Nobody knew she was pregnant. Nobody knew anything,” Patton-Manu said.
The aunt said Trejo, the youngest of his four siblings, “was always a private person” but a happy, normal teen in a close-knit family. “He loved sports. He was on the wrestling team for a long time. Football. Playing video games. Just your typical kid,” she said.
She said Trejo and his siblings were raised in California until his father moved to Indiana in 2007 or 2008 to find better work opportunities. The father landed a job, bought a house and moved his wife and kids to the Midwest, Patton-Manu said.
“They’re a loving family. All of us go to church. We’re all God-fearing people,” Patton-Manu said, adding, “We just want everybody to stop trying to harass everybody in our family. We didn’t do nothing wrong.”
On Facebook, strangers have targeted Trejo’s relatives with messages and public comments. “I hope your grandson gets the max. 85yrs. Too bad the death penalty won't happen,” someone wrote on the wall of Trejo’s grandmother.
Patton-Manu said her family is praying for Breana’s family. “This is just a nightmare all the way around,” she said. “I wish we could wake up.”
Trejo had a “bad concussion” from playing football this fall, Patton-Manu said. “That could have messed with his mind, too,” she said.
The football coach for Mishawaka High School referred The Daily Beast to a spokeswoman, who could not be reached by press time.
“This is not him. I just wish everybody would understand that,” Patton-Manu said.