ROANOKE, Va.- – For the first time 10 News was able to interview the family of a Roanoke woman whose death remains a mystery more than a year after her body was found.
Dayshaun Kent, the man accused of hiding Edme Merle-Perez's body and killing her two cats just over a year ago, was sentenced for the felony charges. He received the maximum sentence of 15 years for his charges but five years were suspended. The judge said he wished he could have given Kent more time.
During his sentencing, Kent apologized to Merle-Perez's family in the courtroom.
"I'm very sorry. It was a terrible decision. My mind wasn't there. I hope you forgive me," said Kent.
The apology is hard for her family to accept.
"Apologies are just words. Actions speak louder than words, right?" said Tony Merle.
Kent claims he and Merle-Perez were doing drugs the day before she disappeared. He confessed in court to concealing her body after he found her dead. He also put her two cats in a backpack and threw them into the creek alive.
"Attorney: "When did you put her body in the trash can and roll her down the creek?" Kent: "About two days after that."
Tony Merle said Merle-Perez leaves behind five children, and not knowing the whereabouts of his sister has taken a toll on the family.
"Not hearing from her and kind of holding it from the children and not say anything to them until we knew for sure., it was a very difficult process to look at them in the face and try to live life as normal," he said.
Merle said Kent didn't allow them to have a proper burial for Merle-Perez at the time of her death. The family did not receive her remains until last month.
"No parent should have to bury their child, regardless of the situation. She was a mental health patient and he thought he took advantage of that," said Merle.
Kent was not charged in Merle-Perez's her death because an autopsy on the skeletal remains could not determine how she died.
Kent was ordered to not have any contact with anyone in Merle-Perez's family while he is in prison or after his release.