Kristen Victoria Haberle first fell for Adam Sebastian Price when she watched him with his two Siamese cats, Dad and Jade.
"Watching the way he would hold and handle them, looking and talking to them in such a delicate nurturing nature — that right there just won me over," said Haberle. "I didn't know him too well at the time, but I knew that I wanted to."
Haberle, got her wish, and did get to know Price better. They dated for two years — up until the awful morning of Christmas day 2005, when Haberle received the news that her boyfriend had been shot and killed by someone they both knew.
For reasons that are still unclear, 27-year-old Nathan Cheatham of McLean, went on a killing spree that started in McLean and ended in Great Falls. At approximately 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 25, 2005, Cheatham shot and killed his mother, 53-year-old Sheila Cheatham, at their home in McLean. He then drove to the Great Falls home of Janina Price, 50. Once there, Cheatham fired multiple rounds, killing Price, her son Adam, 19, and their houseguest Christopher Buro, 20. In the end, he turned the gun on himself. Price's son Alex, 20, was able to hide from Cheatham and escape once the shooting ended.
Haberle, 22, currently resides in Herndon. She says it saddened her to see the negative press that surrounded her boyfriend and his family in the wake of the tragedy.
"There have been many articles on Chris Buro and Nate Cheatham, but I could not however find anything on or about Adam ... nothing good that is," said Haberle. "Though we all got into bad things, people, places and habits back then, that does not make us who we really are inside. Nobody asks for it, nobody deserves it ... unfortunately, bad things happen to good people."
IT HAD BEEN a difficult couple of years for the Price family. Adam and Alex lost their father Andrew Price to cancer in 2003, leaving their mother to take care of them on her own. Haberle knew just how difficult it was for Adam to lose his father, as she accompanied him on a final family vacation to Rehoboth beach in Delaware.
"It was with his father who was suffering from cancer and died sometime after that occasion," said Haberle. He had been fighting it for a long time before then, which I could see hurt Adam so deeply. He would cry when talking about it and I could see the pain in his eyes. He loved his father so much — his father's death destroyed him."
Despite the hardship, Haberle and other friends of Adam Price remember him as a caring and happy person.
"Adam was always someone that I could count on through thick and thin," said friend Sarah Hillman, who lives in Richmond. "We as a group went through so much in our younger years — a lot that could have destroyed some people, but it made us stronger. We were a family and he was the glue that held it all together."
Hillman says that she thinks of Price often.
"There isn't a day that goes by where I don't miss him or smile a little when I think of all the laughter we shared," said Hillman. "He was a truly genuine person — a trait he got from his mother."
ANOTHER FRIEND of Price's, Katie Mitchell, said, "Adam was one of the goofiest kids that I knew."
"No matter what was going on in their lives, he and his family were always there to help," said Mitchell, who lives in Reston. "I think about him everyday. I know that he went through a lot in his life, and I know that wherever he is now, he's happy."
For her part Haberle says she wishes that everyone could know the Adam Price that she knew.
"Unfortunately, many only saw the outside — the trouble, the anger and the hate that I know just covered up hurt and despair," she said. "Adam Price was the type of person who would give you the shirt off of his back, give you the last cent to his name if you were a friend, if you cared, or if he did about you. He was a genuinely kind person with a big heart."