Man charged with murder in Northeast Memphis strangulation case

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A community is grieving as they learn details in the death of a beloved neighbor and friend who was found strangled in Northeast Memphis Sunday night.

Hugo worked at Crown's Super Market and lived nearby.

"It makes me teary eyed," Collette Rivers, one Hugo's regular customers at Crown Super Market, said.

Police: Woman found strangled to death in North Memphis

"She would always be concerned about me. I have a little girl. She'd always ask me, 'Where's your little girl? It just touched my heart," Rivers said.

Rivers is one of many trying to process what police say happened.

Police arrested Jimmy "Cowboy" Lewis charged him with first-degree murder, first-degree murder in the perpetration of a robbery and first-degree murder in the perpetration of a rape.

He was taken into custody after a witness pointed him out as they were patrolling the area.

The relationship between the defendant and victim is unknown, but witnesses said Lewis would always walk Hugo home after she got off from work.

"He walked her home. He was good friends with Elaine and her boyfriend," the suspect's friend, D. Whiteley, said.

But friends say the two got in a fight Sunday night, possibly over money or beer.

Several hours later, she was discovered face-down in the grass on West Lloyd Circle. Officers said she was bleeding from her face and was disrobed.

Authorities say Lewis strangled and raped Hugo, while trying to rob her.

The medical examiner ruled her death a homicide caused by strangulation.

Related: Police identify woman found strangled to death in North Memphis 

Whiteley says she talked with Lewis the next day.

"He talked to me about the crime. Nothing seemed out of normal. He didn't talk too much at all. He just seemed down. We didn't see any of this coming,"

WREG dug into Lewis' background.

State records show he was guilty of domestic assault back in 2007, but he hasn't been in trouble since trespassing in 2009.

That’s what makes this even harder for friends of *both the suspect and the victim.

"I never pictured him as someone who'd attack Elaine. If you canvassed the neighborhood, everyone who knew her liked her," Pastor Kenneth Murphy said.

Friends say they still have questions about the timeline. Where exactly did it happen and why?

Friends and family are holding a vigil at the Crown Supermarket to remember Hugo.