Juliane Kellner believed that at 42, she finally had turned her life around from an abyss of addiction, violence and depression.
“Menial jobs, unhealthy relationships … they were all welcomed with open arms believing that even life’s leftovers were more than I deserved,” she shared with members of her church in a presentation posted to YouTube last January.
The result was a life of “comfortable dysfunction” before she discovered faith and rallied herself ahead of her birthday last October.
“Now when I look at my life I can do it with my eyes wide open,” she said. “I know my story is filled with broken pieces, terrible choices and ugly truth, but it also has a major comeback. … I don’t know exactly what God has in store for me. I don’t know how my story will end, but I do know this: Nowhere in the text will it ever read, ‘She gave up.’ “
Her life came to a tragic end in an apartment in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, Nevada, where she was the homicide victim in a murder-suicide, according to police.
The Clark County Coroner’s Office confirms to PEOPLE that Kellner died from a gunshot to the chest. The man found with her has not been identified.
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Kellner’s son, 21-year-old Brandon Wilt, said he believed his mom had met the man through the dating app Plenty of Fish and that they’d been seeing each other for about a month, reports KVVU.
The discovery of the bodies in the apartment about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday followed a welfare check after Kellner was last reported seen by her roommate on June 28, almost two weeks earlier. Her cell phone and later her Volkswagen Jetta both were located in the parking lot of the apartment building, reports KVVU.
Her friends had found a text message on Kellner’s phone with the apartment’s address, and reported her missing July 2, a day after she failed to show up at her workplace, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
Her son traveled to Las Vegas from Florida after receiving a call July 5 that she’d disappeared, according to KVVU. “Eight, nine days we were screaming and crying for [police] that something’s not right, something’s wrong. They need to check that apartment,” Wilt told the outlet. “I called [police] countless times, every single day until I was here, until I finally got answers and until she was found.”
In a statement, Henderson police said that “as this is an open investigation, no further details will be released at this time.”
Wilt said his mom had moved to Las Vegas in December 2017 to enter a 12-month rehab program at Refuge for Women, which promises on its website to offer long-term care for women who have “escaped human trafficking or sexual exploitation.”
She had recently completed that program, he told KVVU. “She was succeeding, she got a great job, she got a car, her license back,” he said.
The mom of three had anticipated a visit from her twin 15-year-old daughters, whose planned July 5 arrival was cancelled upon word that she’d vanished, their brother said, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
He described his mom as a “top salesman” at the Las Vegas Athletic Club who loved to hike and fish.
“When she got connected with God, she changed a lot of people’s lives,” he said, according to KVVU. “She was very, very outgoing. She loved to be around people, she could talk to anybody. She could make anybody laugh. It could be the hardest times and she was always trying to cheer you up.”
“She was doing so well in life I think that she was trying to still move forward,” he said. “I think she was trying to find somebody to connect with. She wouldn’t have put herself in this position on purpose, that’s for sure. I think she was just trying to find somebody that she could love and got tied up with the wrong person.”