Homicide victim Michelle M. Koenen had a big heart.
“She was a very affectionate person and she loved people,” said her mother, Doris Koenen. “She loved animals. She just loved everything.”
Koenen, 48, was found strangled in her West Broadway Avenue apartment Friday.
Koenen’s family is grieving in the wake of her violent death as police hunt for her suspected killer, 38-year-old Tony T. Callihan, who was last seen Monday in Ellensburg.
“She was my precious daughter,” Doris Koenen said. “I loved her very much. I just don’t know what else to say. I’m just having a very hard time.”
Although Koenen and Callihan were dating, Koenen never mentioned him to her mom. Police believe he strangled her during a domestic dispute.
“I don’t know a thing about him,” she said. “She never told me about him.”
Doris Koenen said her daughter, who grew up in Spokane, attended St. Charles grade school and Gonzaga Preparatory School.
She spent most of her adult life in the Seattle and Portland areas and moved back to Spokane last summer to be close to her family.
“She was strong-headed and had her own mind,” her mom said. “She wanted her own life.”
Michelle Koenen, who was disabled and didn’t work, didn’t have children but doted on her dogs Samantha and Tigger.
“She loved her dogs,” Doris Koenen said. “She loved animals.”
Meanwhile, Spokane police also are investigating an unrelated homicide that occurred just four blocks away.
They have released few new details on the shooting death of David B. Deponte, 28. A neighbor found Deponte’s body in an alley near Bridge Avenue and Cannon Street on Friday morning.
He died from multiple gunshot wounds to the head.
Police indicated his death could be gang-related but have not pointed to any suspects or motives. The Spokane Violent Crimes Gang Enforcement Team is assisting in the investigation.
They’re still seeking tips in both cases.
Authorities say Callihan, who is considered extremely dangerous, was spotted Monday stealing gas from a Central Washington University maintenance truck.
He was last seen driving Koenen’s 2000 Dodge Stratus with Washington plate number 474 WRH. The car is light green but appears gray.
A Spokane police detective has a search warrant for the vehicle as well as Callihan’s possessions, clothing and DNA.
Callihan is 6 feet tall, 190 pounds. He is white with brown hair and brown eyes. Police say anyone who sees him or the vehicle should immediately call 911.
Doris Koenen said although she is struggling to cope with her daughter’s death, she isn’t angry at whoever killed her.
“I just pray for him,” she said.