Andrea Arrington, a 23-year-old working mother, was a strong-willed Ridley High grad with a supportive family, big plans for the future and the drive to make them a reality.
She'd just been accepted to Temple University and wanted to become a radio broadcaster.
Her ex-boyfriend Aaron Michael, the troubled son of a longtime Chester cop, had other things in mind.
Infuriated that Arrington had filed a restraining order against him, Michael, 29, grabbed his father's .40-caliber handgun - believed to be his service pistol - Monday night and ambushed Arrington in Ridley Township when she arrived at the babysitter's house to pick up their 2-year-old son, police said.
He opened fire before the babysitter opened the door.
"She collapsed on the ground," Ridley Detective Sgt. Scott Willoughby said of Arrington. "He stood above her and continued to fire into her - upwards of 11 times."
"He became desperate," said her mother, Audra Thornton-Arrington, "and he took my baby from me."
It wasn't the first life that Michael has taken, Delaware County District Attorney G. Michael Green said yesterday afternoon.
In a phone confession that he made to two friends after killing Arrington, Michael admitted to slaying two sons he had fathered with other women, Green said.
The causes of deaths of 4-year-old Lamar Patrick on Sept. 29, 2005, and of 4-month-old Alijah Townes on July 21, 2007, had been ruled "undetermined" by the county Medical Examiner's Office. But both boys' mothers were "extremely suspicious" of the circumstances of their deaths, Green said.
Michael had been interviewed in relation to both cases and had maintained his innocence, Green said.
Michael confessed at about midnight Monday while holed up in his dad's house on 23rd Street in Chester, where he had gone after shooting Arrington.
Moments later, he was shot by a Chester police officer and was pronounced dead at 12:36 a.m. yesterday. Green said that Michael refused to drop his gun when police asked.
Michael had been living with his father, John Michael, a 15-year veteran of the force. He was in Florida at the time.
"That telephone conversation took place literally minutes before the exchange with Chester police that resulted in his death," Green said of the confession. "Up until this moment, this is the first firm information we have suggesting that his hand had any part to do with the death of Lamar Patrick and Alijah Townes."
Patrick died overnight in what "appeared to be" a possible choking, Green said. Townes tested positive for meningitis, but that was not determined to have killed him, Green said. Both mothers have been notified of Michael's admission.
Yesterday, about two dozen friends and relatives descended on Arrington's grandmother's Constitution Avenue home, which is next door to the babysitter's house. Tears streamed down the cheeks of Arrington's 8-year-old brother, David.
Her 2-year-old son, Aaron, scooted up and down the sidewalk on a plastic tricycle.
"Now, he's left fatherless and motherless," said Koy Stewart, pastor of New Life Ministries, who was consoling the family.
"She was a beautiful girl. She was special to me," Thornton-Arrington said of her oldest daughter. "We were very proud of the woman she turned out to be."
Thornton-Arrington said her daughter had broken up with Michael weeks ago and filed a protection-from-abuse order this month. He responded by threatening to kill her entire family and harassing her, she said.
"While still conscious, in a dying declaration, Andrea was able to tell the police officers that Aaron Michael shot her and that she had a protection-from-abuse petition and order entered against him," Green said.
From the day she met Michael, who has prior theft convictions, Thornton-Arrington said she believed he was "rotten."
"There was something in his face" that was deeply disturbing, she said. "I can't be sympathetic to the fact that he's not here either."
But Michael's next-door neighbor Darrell Short said he hadn't noticed "any indication that anything was wrong or that he was having problems."
"He was very friendly, nice, polite," Short said.
Arrington was taken to Crozer-Chester Medical Center Monday, where she died of her wounds at about 7:30 a.m. yesterday.
"She fought to the end, but she just lost so much blood that they couldn't save her," Thornton-Arrington said. "She opened her eyes and looked at her dad and I and we told her that we loved her and were waiting for her to make a recovery.
"She just never did."
Stewart, the pastor, said victims of domestic abuse need to seek help immediately – not wait until the abuse becomes physical.
"This is the manifestation of something that had been brewing for a long time," he said. If left unchecked, he added, "Eventually, it comes to this."
As she stood at the crime scene yesterday, Thornton-Arrington shuddered to think of what could have happened if Michael had arrived a minute later, when her grandson may have emerged from the babysitter's home.