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Corning mom, killed in her apartment, remembered as 'kindest and most forgiving person'

The Leader
The Leader
 2022-08-10

Keli Collins was supposed to attend her friend Ashley Crooks’ wedding in the Adirondacks last Saturday.

The pair planned to take “too many pictures with silly Snapchat filters, with tongues out and peace signs up. The way we’ve done so many times before," Crooks said on Facebook.

But on the day of her wedding, Crooks put a different picture on display: a framed photograph of Collins, along with a candle; a small memorial tribute to her friend.

"It just makes me sick to think of her final moments," Crooks said. "She deserved so much better."

Collins, a 26-year-old Corning mother of two, was found dead in her Walter Smith Terrace apartment early Friday morning. Another resident at the complex has been charged in her death.

What happened to Keli Collins, according to police

Police said Collins, a 2013 graduate of Corning West High School and the Corning-Painted Post High School Learning Center, was discovered unresponsive in her apartment unit shortly after 1 a.m. Friday. Officials said life-saving efforts were unsuccessful.

According to investigators, 29-year-old Brett R. Heffner, who also lives in the Walter Smith Terrace complex but in a different building, attacked Collins before stealing her car and driving to Hornell.

Heffner was located by Hornell police and taken into custody around 2 a.m. Friday, according to Corning Police Chief Jeff Spaulding.

He has been charged with second-degree murder. Police have not commented on a motive.

Charges: Corning man charged with killing woman at Walter Smith Terrace Apartments

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More: Keli Collins was killed in her Corning apartment. An autopsy reveals how she died

'The kindest and most forgiving person'

Collins' friend, Kristina Styron, said she "was the kindest and most forgiving person on the planet who always saw the good in people no matter what. She was the type of friend who was always there for you."

She also loved attending concerts and collecting band memorabilia. Styron said the most important people in Collins' life were her children, 7-year-old Viera and 5-year-old Lundin.

"Those kids were her entire heart, everything she did throughout her life was for them," she said.

Friends and family are remembering Collins in many ways . They've gathered for a vigil, started a GoFundMe page to cover funeral expenses and distributed yard signs demanding "Justice for Keli."

More than two dozen people responded to the Facebook post offering the signs.

"Our family is devastated," Collins' aunt, Kristin Collins-Breyfogle, wrote in a GoFundMe appeal she organized to help cover funeral expenses. "(Keli) was a bright spot in many people's lives and always wanted to help those around her."

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than $10,700 had been raised.

In Corning's Denison Park on Saturday, friends, family and community members shared personal stories, lit candles and released balloons in Collins’ memory.

“There were journals for people to write messages to her and they were given to her family to have and to know just how much she meant to everyone,” said Renee Skinner, whose son, Kendrick Buchanan, was Collins’ fiancé, and father of her children.

“She was an amazing and loving human being,” Skinner added. “She loved her kids more than anything."

In addition to her children, Collins is survived by her mother, Colleen L. Collins; and father, Thomas J. Adrignola; a brother and sister; paternal grandparents; and aunts and uncles.

Funeral arrangements are by Carpenter's Funeral Home in Corning. Calling hours are 2-4 p.m. Thursday.

Follow Neal Simon on Twitter @HornellTribNeal . To get unlimited access to the latest news, please subscribe or activate your digital account today .

This article originally appeared on The Leader: Corning mom, killed in her apartment, remembered as 'kindest and most forgiving person'

Comments / 5

Nicholas Weber
08-10

Articles like this that make me want to take up the punisher hood. No amount of time in jail will be enough for that man.

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