SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane murder victim Michelle Koenen had a kind heart for people and animals, said her mother Doris Koenen.
"I thought she was a very happy person," Doris said. "I think she liked people and was very friendly."
Koenen's family is in mourning this week after Michelle was found murdered in her West Central apartment on Friday. Police believe the man she was dating, Tony T. Callihan, strangled her in a domestic dispute. According to court documents released Wednesday, Callihan went to his stepfather's house after he killed Koenen and told his stepfather he had "just killed a girl." Callihan said he met Koenen at a "meth party", shoved her, and choked her.
Spokane Police are still searching for Callihan, 38, who was last seen Monday stealing gas on the Central Washington University campus in Ellensburg.
"I didn't know anything about him really," Doris said. "She probably wouldn't let me know about him anyway because she'd be afraid I would be afraid of him. I don't know how she got involved with this man. I just can't believe it."
Michelle grew up in the home Doris still lives in near Shadle Park High School. Michelle went to Gonzaga Preparatory High School as well as Shadle but never graduated, said Doris. In the early 80's, Michelle moved to Portland and Seattle and lived on the west coast for years. Her family said she did not work as she was disabled.
"She just had her own life," Doris said.
Then this spring, Michelle moved back to Spokane to be closer to her family. She grew especially close to her mom who, at 83-years-old, is fighting breast cancer. Michelle regularly spent time with Doris and often took her to chemotherapy appointments.
"She's been a big help in that so I got to see, you know, be close to her then," Doris said. "We had good talks and loved each other and everything."
Michelle did not have any children and was never married but she had two dogs she loved named Samantha and Tigger. After years of taking care of them, her mom said they had to be put down earlier this year due to old age.
A service for Michelle will be held this Saturday at St. Charles at 11 am. It will be open to the public.
To help offset the funeral costs, a memorial fund has been set up in at any Numerica Credit Union under the title Michelle Koenen Memorial or account number #743205
Tony Callihan remains on the run as of Wednesday morning. Police believe he is an extreme risk to officers and the community. If you have any information about the location of Callihan you are asked to call Crime Check at 509-456-2233.
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