An Albuquerque woman stood face-to-face in court with the three people who murdered her mother.
Robin Brule’s mother, Ruth Schwed, a retired Albuquerque teacher, was visiting a friend in Arizona when three people broke into her friend’s home.
Wednesday, Brule shared her mother’s story with KRQE News 13 more than three years after the murder.
“Beauty, humanity, resilience, strength, perseverance, and choice,” Brule said.
Those are the words that make Brule smile and think about her mother.
“Those are the things she always taught us,” Brule said.
That’s also everything the 75-year-old embodied until the day her life was taken, Feb. 8, 2016.
“She thought that kids were the most amazing thing and that they deserved every opportunity,” Brule said.
Schwed was a school teacher for 30 years in Albuquerque. She was also an avid traveler.
“She loved nature,” Brule said. “She thought it was so beautiful and wanted to be in it as much as possible.”
Most of the time Schwed had a travel partner, her husband, but one of Schwed’s most unique and powerful qualities was her unconditional friendship.
“Barb Leslie, whose house she was staying at, had recently lost her husband,” Brule said. “And my mom had experienced the loss of my dad, so she knew how hard that was so she wanted to encourage Barb and be with her.”
So Schwed packed up in February 2016 and left to spend a few weeks with long-time friend Barbara Leslie. Leslie lived in Surprise, Arizona.
Brule said it wasn’t like her mother not to stay in touch when she was away, so after not hearing from her for a day, Brule called police.
“She didn’t check in with me, my brother, or my sister,” Brule said. “It was out of character.”
Police in Arizona would find the two women shot to death in Leslie’s home during a home burglary.
“This was so unnecessary. So senseless. So cowardly,” Brule said.
Police ultimately arrested three suspects in the case: Andrew Lauro, Tichina Shepard, and Montez Wright. Three years later and all three have been convicted of murdering the women.
When asked if Brule has found forgiveness, she said only one word comes to mind. A word her mother used often: choice.
“They had choices about their lives. Choices about the way they can get money and instead they chose to enter into a home and murder two defenseless women,” Brule said.
While the family continues to heal, Brule said she’d reminded of her mother every day.
“She’d want us to be happy and joyful and giving back to our community, and so that’s what I try to remember,” she said. “That’s what I try to live every day as a testament to her.”
Brule said she doesn’t want her mother to be remembered as a “victim.” Instead, she said she wants her known as a loving mother, grandmother, friend, volunteer, and community member who loved New Mexico.
Brule is now part of the nonprofit known as ‘Everytown for Gun Safety,’ which advocates for gun control legislation. Through this organization, Brule travels and shares her mother’s story.