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Nurse killed in Pineville had local ties

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By Jenny Hartley

Virginia Sanchez's life began in turmoil, say her grandparents, the Rev. Bill and Saundra Ferguson of Lancaster.

Sanchez lived with different family members when she was young, including with the Fergusons. She was emancipated from her parents at 16.

"She had some teenage problems, like a lot of teenagers do," Saundra Ferguson said. "It took a while to get past that, but she was starting to turn her life around."

She was found dead in her car in the parking lot of Carolinas Medical Center Pineville the night of April 16. She had been strangled. Sanchez, a certified nursing assistant, worked at the hospital. She was 23.

Jesus Rangel, 26, turned himself in to Rock Hill authorities Thursday. He has been charged with first-degree murder in Sanchez's death, said Pineville Police Department Capt. James Holden.

Holden said Sanchez and Rangel were acquaintances involved in an ongoing dispute that involved childcare. Sanchez had filed several police reports against Rangel in the past, Holden said.

"We've heard five or six different sides about why they were arguing and childcare was one of them," Holden said.

Rangel made an initial appearance in court on Monday, and is scheduled to have a bond hearing on May 5. The Fergusons are praying that a judge will decide to keep Rangel behind bars.

The Fergusons remember fondly caring for Sanchez for about three years when she was a small child. Saundra Ferguson said Sanchez would climb into bed with her and sing songs.

"She loved to sing," Saundra Ferguson said. "Her favorite song was 'Amazing Grace,' and she always wanted to hear it when she came to church."

Bill Ferguson pastors Gateway Church of God in Indian Land. He said his granddaughter had recently gotten baptized, and renewed her relationship with her birth mother, the Fergusons' daughter, Treva.

Sanchez and her mother had recently attended nursing classes together, and were making plans to open a home health-care facility.

"She wanted a better life," Bill Ferguson said. "I really think she would have made something of herself. She was well on her way."

Bill Ferguson said he was amazed by the number of people who came to funeral services for Sanchez on Sunday. About 50 nurses came from Carolinas Medical Center.

"Everyone she touched had good things to say about her," he said.

The nurses said Sanchez always had a twinkle in her eye, was always smiling and had the ability to calm patients.

"She was a people person. She had that touch," Bill Ferguson said.

The past several days have been exhausting, as the family tries to comprehend their loss. But they can take solace in one thing, Bill Ferguson said.

"Virginia had given her life to the Lord," he said. "That took a tremendous burden off of the family."

"We loved her dearly," Saundra Ferguson said. "She was our baby."

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley jhartley@thelancasternews.com at or (803) 283-1151