Family of woman found dead inside SUV in West Oakland hopes her story will save another

Family of woman found dead inside SUV in West Oakland hopes her story will save another

The family of a woman found dead from a gunshot wound in a stolen SUV in West Oakland last month is opening up about her struggles in the hopes that it may save somebody else.

Authorities found Marrisa Collazo, 30, on Dec. 16, and police classified her death as a homicide, one of 126 in that city in 2023.

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“We are absolutely heartbroken,” Collazo’s sister, Alicia Ruelas, said by phone Tuesday morning. “We loved her. She was very loved.”

Collazo’s family has created a public fundraising page to help her four children in the aftermath of their mother’s death. She left behind two boys who are 15 and 13 and two girls who are 12 and 3, her family said.

“Our hopes are just to provide for them and support them, so that all their needs are met, and they won’t be limited in the things they need to thrive,” page organizer Robert Collazo, Marrisa’s father, wrote. “They are surrounded by love.”

Police found Marrisa Collazo inside an SUV that was parked alongside some railroad tracks off the 2600 block of Wood Street. Police said the SUV had been reported stolen two days earlier.

“Marissa had her demons,” Robert Collazo wrote. “As many, she had her own battle with drug addiction. She knew she had family that loved and supported her, and her journey to recovery, but sadly, her life was cut short. Although she was imperfect, she was still a human being, and no one had the right to take her life.”

Ruelas said the family is being open about her sister’s struggles with addiction in the hope that their story can end the cycle for other families.

“I would be hopeful that her story would touch someone who might be out there like her who wasn’t ready to come home and get well yet,” she said. “And maybe that might make that person go home.”

Ruelas said her sister was a “young spirit” who loved to be silly.

“She played with kids, and changed her voice to talk in accents,” Ruelas said. “She loved Tik-Tok and acting out the characters.”

Oakland police said they have no additional information to release, and that a motive hasn’t been determined. They have not made any arrests.