Carin Gendell first met Janina Price almost 20 years ago, when she was living in New York and Price was living in Connecticut. Gendell's husband worked with Price's husband Andrew, who was a successful telecom business executive.
"They were close colleagues," said Gendell. "Andy was my husband's first boss at TIMENet. They became very good friends and we vacationed together once a year."
Andrew and Janina Price eventually moved to Great Falls, and not long after, the Gendell's did the same. When the Gendell's first arrived in Great Falls 10 years ago, their friends seemed to be doing well.
"Andy was a very successful telecommunications sales executive and she was a jewelry designer," said Gendell. "She had a business and she was selling her jewelry at Nordstrom. She was doing extremely well."
Gendell also recalls the Price's youngest son Adam, then 9, helping his mother to make her jewelry designs.
"He was very good at it," said Gendell. "He had a natural ability."
Sadly, things took a turn for the worst when Andrew Price learned that he had cancer just a few years later.
"It was clearly the end of her business and her other activities," said Gendell. "She was one of the most devoted wives imaginable to a sick husband. In the last year before he died, I don't think she hardly even left the house. She was just constantly by his side."
In fact, the last time that Gendell recalls seeing her friend was three years ago at Andrew Price's memorial service.
"The last time we talked she sounded pretty sure about moving back to Connecticut," said Gendell.
The two friends lost touch, and Gendell assumed that Price had in fact made the move back home. On Christmas Day, 2005, she was shocked to find out that Price and her two sons were still in Great Falls, and that Janina, 50, and Adam, 19, had been murdered in an unexplainable suicidal killing spree.
On the morning of Dec. 25, Nathan Cheatham, 27, of McLean, arrived at the Price residence on Sycamore Springs Lane and began shooting as he walked up the driveway. Inside the house, Cheatham shot and killed Janina and Adam Price, and their houseguest Christopher Buro, 20, before taking his own life. Alex Price, 20, managed to escape the bloodbath by hiding in the basement.
In recent years, Janina Price had led a somewhat troubled life. As someone who had always struggled with the demons of addiction, Price had fallen into using prescription painkillers. However, her friends know that this was not the real Janina Price.
"She was very bright and well educated and very witty – very sarcastically witty," said Gendell. "But she was very sincere and she had all the best intentions. I'm not sure how all these things happened to her."
Price is survived by her son Alex, 20, and two sisters and two brothers. On the comment space attached to the death notice for both her and her son Adam, friends remember her as a devoted wife and mother.
"Janina was my dear friend through my years in Great Falls," said Vivian Hults, who now lives in Birmingham, AL. "Although it has been 11 years since I left, my heart broke when I heard the news. Janina was a vibrant, intelligent and spirited woman who loved her family very deeply. I will always remember her in this way."