HOUSTON The suspect in what police are calling the brutal murder of a 27-year-old respiratory therapist turned himself in Sunday afternoon after several hours on the run.

Stephen Noah Dawkins, 22, is now charged with capital murder.

Investigators said he had an on-again, off-again relationship with Altovise Mahone, 27, who was found dead Saturday inside her apartment in the 14900 block of South Richmond in west Houston.

I couldn t believe that it happened so close to my house and I didn t hear anything, said Alyssa Smith, a neighbor. (Mahone was) a hard worker. She was always running downstairs in uniform.

She was stunned to see police detectives scouring her west Houston apartment complex on New Year s Eve. Relatives told investigators they d last heard from Mahone Thursday night. When they checked on her Saturday around noon, they found her body.

Several items were stolen and her car was missing.

It was a brutal attack, said Sgt. Brian Harris with the Houston Police Department. There didn t seem to be any forced entry into her apartment.

Mahone s family declined to comment as they mourned.

Giselle Guzman, a friend who said she had studied with Mahone at Texas Southern University, said in an e-mail that Mahone was a great person with a good sense of humor (who) didn t deserve to die like this.
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