Stacey Burns was a popular figure in the lakeside community of Wolfeboro, N.H.
"Everybody went to her house," said Fae, a close friend of Stacey's. "The door was always open to everyone, old and young."
Her large colonial house sits on the main street of Wolfeboro, a tight-knit town with a population of 6,531 people that balloons to 25,000 during the summer when tourists flock to the picture-postcard New England town.
Watch "20/20" at tonight at 10 p.m. E.T. to see exclusive interviews with the men in Stacey Burns' life.
Stacey was a school nurse at Carpenter Elementary School in Wolfeboro. She met her husband Ed Burns more than 20 years ago when she was a student and he was a young merchant marine. Stacey's big brother, Michael Keane, recalls meeting Ed for the first time and thinking, "[He] was an interesting fellow -- a little eccentric."
After a whirlwind courtship, Stacey and Ed married and by their 10th anniversary, they had five children. As a merchant marine, Ed spent months at a time out at sea while Stacey stayed in Wolfeboro caring for their growing family. When Ed returned home from sea, tensions would arise between them.
"We both had to adjust because we were both commander of the ship, if you will. And I found out that even when I was home, I was actually second in command," Ed said.
Brittany, the Burns' live-in babysitter, witnessed the increasing strain on Stacey.
"It wasn't an ideal marriage for her," she said. "He wanted to know what Stacey was doing at all times. And if she would tell him the truth, he still wouldn't believe that it was the truth."
Eventually, Ed's desire to control Stacey became too much for her to endure, friends said, and she filed for divorce while Ed was out at sea. The news came as a shock to Ed Burns, and by Christmas 2008, Stacey and Ed were officially divorced.
Newly-single Stacey began dating a man whose son played hockey with her teenage son Michael.
Jim Vittum was a logger and divorced father of two children. He fell in love with Stacey soon after they began seeing each other.
"Three months into [the] friendship, I think we were in love," Vittum told "20/20."
But Stacey's babysitter says Stacey wasn't ready to start a serious relationship since she'd just been through a divorce.
"Stacey told me, '[Jim] thinks he's going to move in here, and we're going be like the big Brady Bunch.' And she's like, 'I am not ready for that,'" Tufts recalled.
Stacey's friend, Fae, remembered that "Jimmy had a hard time with Stacey saying, 'No. '"
On the morning of May 10, 2009, Mother's Day, Stacey and Jim were supposed to take their two daughters to a lacrosse tournament. Stacey and her daughter never showed up at the game, so Jim drove to their house.
The driveway was blocked by an ambulance, and Jim feared the worst.
"My first thought was, 'Maybe she had an accident and maybe she killed herself,'" he said.
Stacey's daughter broke the news to him, telling him, "Jim, mom's dead."
Burns had been stabbed multiple times during the early morning hours. Police surmise that an intruder entered the Burns' unlocked house while Stacey and the children were asleep. Her 15-year-old son discovered her body in her bedroom the next morning.
Burns' murder sent shockwaves through Wolfeboro.
"It really struck a terribly strong chord in the community," said Union Leader reporter Paula Tracy.