About a month before she was murdered, Cathy Torrez wrote two letters to Sam Lopez to let him know she only wanted to be his friend and talk on the phone occasionally. He wrote back to her expecting her to take him out on a date.

Sam lived across the street from Cathy in Placentia, where they had been neighbors for almost five years. They had dated, secretly, for about eight months when they were both students at Valencia High.

On Feb. 19, 1994, Cathy was found dead in the trunk of her own car. She had been stabbed 74 times.

The letters between them are the main topic of Episode 2 of the “Crime Beat” podcast. This season is called “Mom vs. Murderer.”

“Crime Beat,” a deep-dive narrative podcast (available on Apple, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify and anywhere podcasts are available), is focusing its second season on the murder of Cathy Torrez, in which her mother, Mary Bennett, pushed for justice for more than 20 years.

The letters were turned over to police after Cathy was killed. Copies had been sitting in Placentia police archives for more than 20 years.

Here are some examples:

Cathy Torrez’s family found this apparently burned photo of her and Sam Lopez after her death. (Photo courtesy of Mary Bennett.)

Tuesday Jan. 11, 1994 (Cathy writes to Sam)

Well vecino (translation: neighbor),

It’s Sunday 10:30 p.m. and I’m writing my letter to you. Hey, you know I never thought we would be chilling like we are now acting like humans to each other. See everything’s OK until you try to get tricky with me.

You know I was really scared that night that you got crazy with me at Jack-in-the-Box. I tried not to show it or do something that would hurt you but the only thing I could do was take your pager (a lot of good that did).

Anyways please don’t ever do that again because I don’t like that.

Hey you know I always talk and talk when we’re together about how I’m all what should I write? There’s a lot of important things I need to say to you but whenever I see you or we have a good time that I don’t want to spoil it. And it don’t seem like you care to talk about it anyways.

So Sam I hope things are going good in you life because mine isn’t but soon enough I’ll hopefully make some right choices to make me happy. Sam, I haven’t written you a letter in a long time. So what like 5 years (illegible) you know you always take me places and I feel bad when you start saying that you wasted this or that. That’s when I suggest we go somewhere free and that you didn’t have to take me anywhere.

Well (illegible) are we going to see my padre on Monday because I haven’t seen him in awhile. This is what you want saber (translation: you know).

Sam (illegible) we go different places and it’s cool. I totally liked horseback riding with you. The beach is good too but then you get too tricky with me. I have to take off running. I felt bad that time we went to Penny’s because I wasn’t (illegible) and it really seemed that you wanted to go, but oh well.

I still write all messy but oh well. I hope you can read my writing. Si te hace dificil leer esta (translation: If it is difficult for you to read this) … (illegible) por favor sin verguenza (illegible) ayuda de lo cannosa vecina (translation: without shame help your gray-haired neighbor). And you know that’s me.

Thursday Jan. 13, 1994 (Sam writes to Cathy)

Q-vole chavala (translation: Come on, chick) what’s up? Ok, nada but the same old (expletive). Basicaly living my life like a prisoner! So are you taking me out on Fri? or what. If you are, have a plan and surprise me. Anywase listen, I know I (expletive) up with you and I also realize that feelings are not to be played with and thats why I am writing to you. You probably already know that I enjoy being with you. It seems like I could say alot more things without being embarrassed. I know it was like that in school but it’s different now we do alot more things together. I could probably trust you even more now than in the past. Maybe its cause were both adults. Sometimes I sit down and imagine how it would be if I ended up with you, believe me its a scary thought. We would really always be fighting with each other and “you know that’s no life” besides theres always those little things that really (expletive) it up for me, TRUST being one of them. Don’t get me wrong Cathy you were, and always will be my high school sweet heart. You know sometimes I feel like taking that one chance with you cause I know deep inside of me I still care about you. And that’s what makes it really hard on me. I really don’t know if I should just be friends or be with you.

I also wanted to apologize for not telling you this in person its just that I get a big knot in my throat when I try to say something.

Well Cathy, I hope we have a good time on Fri. and every time we go out.

Love Always,

Sam Lopez

Friday Jan. 14, 1994 (Cathy writes to Sam)

Well I didn’t change the letter just adding on. Thanks for the letter. I was really surprised you wrote to me. I wasn’t really counting on you to write me but thanks.

Hey you know how you wrote that you didn’t know if we should be friends or be together. I think that we should just be friends because if you don’t know who does and it’s better for us to just talk on the phone or when we see each other here and there because everything else just complicates both our lives.

I didn’t want to write this to you because it would be better to tell you in person but like I told you I didn’t want to spoil our day. Because all the talks that we have are important to me. I hate to lose that but I think it’s for the best but please don’t forget that I’m here if you ever need to talk. And us going out all the time just would make things worse. Like I said before I don’t like to share so good luck with whatever you do and un dia te vere contento y entonces you tambien lo sere (translation: one day you will be happy and that will make me happy) and I do really mean that.

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