Friends are remembering a mother of three from Massachusetts who police say was brutally murdered Friday afternoon on a beach in Maine by her domestic partner.
Rhonda Pattelena, 35, of Bedford, Massachusetts, was found dead on Short Sands Beach in York, Maine, after state and local police received multiple 911 calls about a man assaulting a woman behind a large rock around 4 p.m.
Investigators say Pattelena was killed by 33-year-old Jeffrey Buchannan, also of Bedford. The two shared a child together, according to police.
After the state medical examiner’s office conducted an autopsy on Saturday, it was determined that Pattelena died from blunt force injuries to the head, and her death was ruled a homicide.
Pattelena's longtime friend Angela Patch, who visited the crime scene Monday, says the beach where Pattelena was killed was her favorite place to visit.
“It's sad, but knowing Rhonda and knowing her love for the beach, especially this beach, there is a peace," Patch said. "It took me a couple days, but I just felt like I had to come to just — just talk to her, and just be — be here, you know? This was our favorite spot.”
A web page set up in Pattelena's memory calls her death a “tragic loss due to domestic violence.” According to the page, her youngest child is just 2 years old.
“Rhonda was a beautiful, loving, caring and generous person," wrote friend Melissa Matranga, who organized the online fundraiser. "She had such a big heart. She was always smiling and laughing. She was so full of life.”
According to the GoFundMe page set up for Pattelena's three boys, there is a candlelight vigil on Short Sands Beach at 7:15 p.m. Friday in memory of the Bedford mom gone too soon.
“She wouldn’t have wanted the last memory tragic," Patch said. "She definitely would’ve wanted everyone celebrating her life."
Buchannan is due in York County Superior Court in Alfred on Tuesday afternoon. It's unclear if he's obtained an attorney who can speak to the murder charge he is facing.