ANAHEIM (CBSLA) — The sister of a Navy lieutenant deputies say was killed by her ex-boyfriend is calling on others to remember her legacy of service.

The night Judith Spirtos got the call that her 40-year-old sister, Navy Lieutenant Ruth Cortes, was murdered in the driveway of their aunt’s house in Moreno Valley October 30th, she says it was “an absolute shock.”

“People were calling us and they were asking what happened. And instead of saying, ‘Oh my gosh what a loss,’ they were asking for details. Don’t ask me how she died. Ask me how she lived, and I will teach you you how to be a better person — because that’s what she did,” Spirtos said.

Riverside County sheriff’s deputies say Cortes’ ex-boyfriend, 36-year-old Aravon McCalla, a Santa Monica attorney, killed her then turned the gun on himself.

Spirtos says no one saw it coming. As detectives try to determine a motive, Spirtos wants others to know who her little sister was.

“She was who you are supposed to be. That’s who I looked up to — and I was the oldest,” she said.

A physician’s assistant in the navy, with a master’s in health who served tours in Afghanistan and Guam, Cortes was, by all accounts, driven by service long before she joined the military. She was the kind of person who dropped her medical career to support her sick father and younger sisters when their mother was killed in a car crash. She was a friend to the those who were bullied and always helped strangers — even off-duty, her sister said.

Spirtos says there’s a reason she chooses to focus on her sister’s legacy instead of her last moments: “When you start thinking about those things, then you get stuck on the wheel of, ‘What could I have done?’ And it just becomes a wheel of, ‘What did I miss? How did I let her down?’ It doesn’t give me her back.”

A funeral will be held for Cortes Saturday at St. Justin’s Church in Anaheim. She will be laid to rest in Orange with full military honors.

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