The first indication Gretchen Corrales' family and friends had that something may be wrong was when she didn't pick up her two children from school on Friday. It wasn't like her.
“[Gretchen's sister] Adrienne was pretty freaked out because she didn’t pick up her kids," said Dr. Greg Kofman, a friend of Corrales' family. "She would always fight, no matter where she was, to get to those kids.”
Kofman said someone called a friend who is an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, and that's when they got the terrible news. Corrales, a graduate of North Hollywood High School and a former All-American track star and coach at California State University Los Angeles, had been found in her car earlier that day at 2 p.m. shot dead. She was 53.
ABC7 reported that Corrales had recently been working as a track coach at Louisville High School in Woodland Hills.
Her car was found parked on a street south of downtown Los Angeles near the intersection of East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Long Beach Avenue, according to Det. Julio Bevavides of the LAPD Newton Division. Corrales’ estranged husband, Gilberto Corrales, a former professional boxer, was arrested in connection with the homicide on Saturday in South Los Angeles, Benavides said. According to Kofman, Gretchen was last seen with Gilberto, who had asked her for a ride.
Gretchen's maiden name was Gretchen Lohr, and she had grown up in the North Hollywood/Studio City area but was recently living in Los Feliz, according to Kofman, who had known Corrales since high school.
Gretchen and her estranged husband had 9-year-old twins who are now being cared for by her sister, who lives in Studio City. Kofman said he was present when Gretchen's sister and friends broke the news of her death to the twins.
“We waited for the arrival of Gretchen's twins… who were still in the dark about their mother. They walked into the living room completely clueless,” Kofman said. “It was heart wrenching but, after about a half hour, they both were truly amazing how they felt secure and safe with their aunt and uncle and some of her close Cal State alumni, whom the kids were also close to.”
“I can’t give details on how we found him, but he was found just wandering around the street,” Benavides said.
Superior Court Judge Shelly Torrealba on Tuesday entered a not guilty plea on behalf of Gilberto Corrales, 36, who indicated through a Spanish interpreter that he wanted to speak with an attorney from outside the Public Defender's Office and that he did not know what to do when asked if he wanted to delay his arraignment, according to City News Service. CNS also reported that he was ordered to remain jailed in lieu of $2 million bail while awaiting a hearing Dec. 4.
While competing for Los Angeles Valley College in 1986, she placed second in the 3,000 meters and third in the 5,000 meters in the state championships, according to the Times. After transferring to Cal State L.A., she earned All-American honors in track and cross country in 1987. In 1989 she finished fourth in the Los Angeles Marathon with the best time by an American, according to the Times.
Before coaching at Louisville High School, Corrales worked as a track and cross country coach at various L.A.-area colleges, including Los Angeles Valley College, Los Angeles Mission College, East Los Angeles College, Glendale College and Cal State L.A.
“When my wife was training for the police academy and going through that process, Gretchen helped train her,” Kofman said. “They would meet every morning at Griffith Park, and every morning she would tell me about those grueling workouts she would put her through. They’d run their ass off and my wife would say like, ‘Oh, I think I’m going to throw up.’ And Gretchen would say, ‘OK, just throw up over there and we’ll get back to it.’ She was a hardcore runner.”
Kofman said Gretchen touched a lot of people though all her years of coaching.
“She was a very popular person," Kofman said. "She’s been very influential and very giving at Mission College and Glendale College. This is going to strike a lot of people."