AKRON, Ohio -- An Akron pizza worker was murdered after she went missing on the job.
On Friday, the Wayne County coroner said the preliminary manner of death for 25-year-old Ashley Biggs, of Akron, was strangulation.
Brittany Dunson says for the past three years, she and Biggs were inseparable.
"I met her at my aunt's house, and it was a click. She laughed, and I just knew," recalled Dunson.
Dunson says back in October Biggs obtained custody of her 6-year-old daughter, Grace. Loved ones now believe a believe a bitter custody battle with Biggs' ex-boyfriend, 30-year-old Chad Cobb, may be the motive for her killing.
"Once you get to know her, she's the most bubbly, goofy person you would ever know. Her favorite thing was playing with her daughter," said Dunson. "She was my girlfriend. We were looking at rings, we were about to be engaged, she was my everything, my life."
In 2005, Cobb pled guilty to domestic violence. Dunson said Biggs had a protection order against him.
"In a way, I knew it. We've been so precautious of it. I knew she's always had that fear it would come to this. I felt a part of me die," said Dunson.
"It's still surreal knowing I won't see her again," said neighbor Candace Andrei. "He's been here a few times trying to get the layout of the apartment, camped out in the parking lot. I always told her, 'If I see something suspicious, I'll let you know.' "
Pat Heit said, "I almost threw up. I was just so sick about it ... it's hard to believe."
Heit says Biggs used to be a home health aide. For nearly a year, Biggs came to her house to care for her late husband.
"She was very kind with him. Now she's up there with him, looking down," Heit said.
"I hate what she went through. I hate the way she went through it," said Dunson. "Me and Grace will just heal together, knowing that she's safe."
Cobb is being held in the Summit County Jail on a $1.5 million bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned June 27 on aggravated murder and kidnapping charges.