"The only thing I can think of," friend Karmilowicz said, "was that maybe she didn't want Alex to have to find her, the way she found her mom."
Another friend offered a different theory. "Maybe it's her way of saying that her life essentially stopped" the night Scott Douglas killed her mother, professor Prigerson said. "It definitely wasn't a coincidence that she jumped from the same bridge that her stepfather did."
Karmilowicz said it was important for people to realize what a vicious cycle domestic abuse is. Annie lost her mother, and now Michael has lost his.
Alex said she was angry at her sister "for leaving behind her son, myself, her friends. ... I think that was the most selfish thing to do, and it breaks my heart that I didn't know she was in so much pain."
Now it is Alex who is overwhelmed by grief. "This is 10 times tougher than my mother's murder," she said. "Ten times, it hurts so much. ... I just want her back. It just kills me because she was my best friend. I always feel so alone now."
Experts say there are effective treatments for depression and complicated grief like Annie's. Alex, despite her grief, is determined to move on.
"My mother never would want my sister and I to live in the past and harbor the fact that she was murdered," Alex said. "I think she would want us to move on in life, and I think Annie would want that, too."