- Associated Press - Thursday, December 29, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A 24-year-old woman killed by her husband on Christmas Day had separated from him about a year before but held onto hope that he would change and they could be a family again, friends said.

Katelynn Armand saw the best in people, they said, even the man who ended up killing her after his depression and drug abuse drove the couple apart.

Family friend Natalie Walsh, who rented a home in Beaverton to Armand and has adult children who were friends with the young mother, described Armand as “a shining light” who took joy in making others laugh with her quick wit. Armand tended to see the positive in every situation, she said.

“I still don’t know how to feel,” said Walsh, 50, who created a GoFundMe donation page for Armand’s family. “It’s all so sad and so senseless. We can’t change it. We can’t fix it. We all somehow have to do the best we can with who is left.”

Armand had gone to the King City home where James Tylka lived with his parents to drop off their 11-month-old daughter for a visit when Tylka shot her outside the house, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said.



Tylka, 30, drove off and then shot 32-year-old State Trooper Nic Cederberg several times when police and deputies chased him to a road south of Sherwood, the sheriff’s office said. Other officers later shot and killed Tylka.

Cederberg, an Army veteran and seven-year trooper, remains at OHSU Hospital, where he appears to be “on a good trajectory” after undergoing three surgeries so far, state police said.

Armand, 24, died at the scene of several gunshot wounds, according to the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office.

Walsh said Armand told her that her husband struggled with depression and substance abuse. She said Armand encouraged Tylka to get help, but it’s unclear if he did.

“She would say he’s going to get better and he’s a good father,” Walsh said Wednesday. “She often spoke highly of him as a father to us.”

Walsh said she hadn’t seen Tylka for about three years. At one time he was a fixture with Armand at barbecues and other gatherings, but eventually “detached himself from this part of the world,” she said.

“We knew there were some difficulties with James,” Walsh said. “We didn’t realize he would do this.”

The couple had separated before daughter Brynn was born in January 2016. Friends said they saw no earlier signs of violence in the couple’s relationship and that the young mother split custody of the baby with Tylka.

Armand grew up in Kelso, Washington, and graduated from Kelso High School in 2011, said Kelsey Schueller, best friends with Armand since the two met in high school as sophomores.

Schueller last spoke to Armand on Christmas hours before she died. They talked about the baby and made plans to meet Tuesday in Kelso to exchange gifts.

When she first got a call from Armand’s aunt with the news, Schueller couldn’t believe that her friend was dead.

“I just kept calling her cellphone and hoped she would pick up,” said Schueller, 23, of Kelso. “I’m still pretty devastated. We all are.”

She described Armand as a determined “goofball” who thrived on being a mother, went out of her way to cheer up anyone she saw having a bad day and was prone to putting on a pair of sunglasses and quoting songs by rapper Tupac Shakur.

“She would blare these songs and sing and rap until you had to join in,” Schueller said.

They celebrated birthdays and college acceptances together, Schueller said. She supported Armand and talked to her often on Skype when Armand moved to New York after high school to pursue a career in fashion design. After Schueller dropped out of Oregon State University, she said it was Armand who motivated her to go back to college to get a teaching degree.

Armand moved back to Oregon in the summer of 2012 or 2013, enrolled at the Portland Art Institute to continue to pursue a fashion career and met Tylka while both worked for a phone company, Schueller said. The two married sometime after that.

Armand miscarried in January 2015 and maintained a blog where she detailed the experience. People reached out to her through the blog and she offered guidance.

“She would meet with these perfect strangers at Starbucks, in hospitals, and hold their hand, laugh with them, cry with them,” Schueller said.

One of Schueller’s fondest recent memories of Armand was seeing her face light up when Brynn was born.

Schueller said she feels sorrow for Tylka’s family and gratitude that Cederberg and other officers put their lives on the line to stop Tylka.

She believes Armand wouldn’t want others to despair at her death.

“She would want everyone to keep living, keep dancing and let her daughter know that she was loved.”

___

Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, https://www.oregonlive.com

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