Fatal fire victim Michael Gonzales got engaged to Gina Virgilio in December, when the two moved in together. Six months later, Virgilio now stands accused of setting the blaze that killed her fiancé in their East Anchorage apartment.
On Monday afternoon Virgilio, 25, was arraigned on charges including first-degree murder and arson. Gonzales' family says the 24-year-old was working at the Moose’s Tooth, saving up his money for a nice wedding.
Angel Gonzales, Michael’s older brother, says the couple dated off and on since high school, but they had only recently gotten serious. Gonzales says Virgilio was never close to their family, which includes nine brothers and sisters as well as half and step-siblings.
When Michael came to family members about his intensions to marry Virgilio, Gonzales says they told him it was his decision. All nine siblings are now making their way to Anchorage for Michael’s funeral.
“We can’t wrap our heads around what happened or even why,” Angel Gonzales said. “It doesn’t make sense for us.”
Virgilio’s mother told reporters Monday afternoon that Michael was emotionally and verbally abusive.
“There was big holes in the walls,” Michelle Virgilio said. “He must have had a temper because when I went there, there was more and more holes in the walls.”
Gonzales’ family says any accusations that he was abusive are untrue.
“That seems furthest from the truth, just furthest from the truth as possible,” Angel Gonzales said.
Gonzales' family has set up an account to raise money for his siblings to attend the funeral. The account is at the Mat-Su Valley Federal Credit Union, under account number 139513.
Email Rebecca Palsha