ST. PAUL — About two weeks before a 28-year-old woman died in St. Paul, she told police she was fearful of a man hurting her. He slapped her four times during an argument, according to a citation charging him with domestic assault.

Police said Thursday, Feb. 27, they are investigating Monique Saraya Robbins’ death as a homicide. Officers arrested Demarea Dajour Clay, 24, on suspicion of violating the protection order in the case from Feb. 8.

On Wednesday at 2:20 a.m., police responded to a 911 caller reporting that neighbors were making a lot of noise at an apartment building in the Payne-Phalen area, according to Steve Linders, a St. Paul police spokesman.

Police found Robbins on the ground in the parking lot of the building where she lived in the 1400 block of Arkwright Street, which is near Arlington Avenue. Officers found Robbins not breathing and began giving her CPR, and paramedics took her to Regions Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, Linders said.

The police department has not released information about how Robbins died. The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office is awaiting a ruling from the medical examiner’s office on cause of death before deciding on charges, according to an official from the office.

Homicide investigators interviewed Clay and he remains in the Ramsey County jail, Linders said.

About two hours before police were called regarding Robbins, St. Paul officers responded to 911 calls and found Abigail Elise Simpson, 21, dead in a Merriam Park apartment early Wednesday. Police have described the situation as a domestic dispute.

Prosecutors charged Terrion Lamar Sherman, 23, with second-degree murder Thursday in Simpson’s death.

Previously charged with domestic assault

On Feb. 8, St. Paul police cited Clay for misdemeanor domestic assault after Robbins said he slapped her because she would not let him use her car. He pleaded not guilty.

A criminal domestic abuse no-contact order was filed, ordering Clay to stay away from Robbins and her apartment building, according to the court record. Clay was released Feb. 10 and the next hearing in the case was scheduled for March 4.

His attorney could not be reached for comment Thursday.

In September, prosecutors charged Clay with two counts of misdemeanor domestic assault against Robbins.

Officers responded to the apartment building on Arkwright Street, where Robbins reported her boyfriend woke her up demanding to use her car. She said he did not have keys to her apartment and must have entered through an open window. Robbins reported she told Clay he couldn’t use her vehicle because she needed it for work that day.

Clay became upset and slapped Robbins across the face, and officers saw she had “a very visible red mark” on her face, according to the criminal complaint. In filing the case, the St. Paul City Attorney’s Office sought a warrant for Clay’s arrest “due to the safety risk (he) poses,” particularly to Robbins, the document said.

After Clay was arrested, he pleaded not guilty. The city attorney’s office dismissed the case in December, writing in a court document there was “no reasonable likelihood of success at trial.”

In 2017, Clay was charged with violating an order for protection when he was found in a Glenwood, Minn., apartment with a woman who had a court order against him, according to a complaint. That case also was dismissed.