Jessica Crocker, Anielka Allen and Danielle Matthews at their 2019 graduation ceremony at Beal College. Credit: Courtesy of Danielle Matthews

Last Wednesday, Danielle Matthews of Corinth reached out to her best friend, Anielka Allen, to follow up on plans the two had made to meet that Friday. But she didn’t hear back, and the next evening, she saw a mutual friend’s Facebook post about Allen that worried her.

She called the mutual friend, Jessica Crocker of Etna, to ask if their friend was OK.

Crocker responded that Allen was dead.

On Monday, just days after Anielka Allen’s husband allegedly killed her in the Newport home they shared, Matthews and Crocker remembered their friend — whom they both called Annie — as a person who helped out her friends when they were going through hard times and inspired them. They’re still trying to wrap their minds around what happened.

Police charged Allen’s husband, 40-year-old Frederick Allen, in his wife’s death on Thursday night. He is being held without bail at Penobscot County Jail. Police have classified the case as a domestic violence homicide.

“I didn’t believe it at first,” Matthews said, “and I’m still having a hard time believing it.”

Matthews met Allen, 37, in their first class in Beal College’s medical assisting program about three years ago, and they instantly became friends. After their graduation ceremony last May, the two kept in touch. They met most recently on Jan. 2.

Matthews remembers Allen as a kind and caring friend. She would buy meals from the Beal College cafeteria for Matthews and other classmates when they were broke, she said. When Matthews dropped out of college and could not afford to go back, Allen helped her get a part-time job at the same cleaning company where she worked.

“I ended up going back to school and finishing because of her,” Matthews said. “She always wanted to take care of everyone else. She had the biggest heart.”

When Crocker, who also was a student in the medical assisting program, needed a place for herself and her kids to stay, Allen hosted them in her Newport home on North Street. She worked two, sometimes three jobs while going to school part-time to make sure her kids — two teenagers and an adult daughter — had everything they needed, Crocker said.

“She would give you the shirt off her back if you needed it,” she said. “I have seen that woman give and give and never ask for anything in return.”

When Crocker found out about Allen’s death from her fiance’s cousin, she collapsed at work.

“I feel so empty right now,” she said. “I just want to wake up from this horrible nightmare. I want those kids to have their mom back, and my best friend back.”

Matthews said she did not know much about Frederick Allen. He and Anielka married in 2000 in North Carolina, according to court documents. Her friends aren’t certain when the couple moved to Maine, but they became the owners of their Newport home in 2007, according to documents filed with the Penobscot County Registry of Deeds.

Matthews met him only a few times, and didn’t really interact with him much even when she did.

“Everyone wasn’t really sure what to think about him,” she said. “He never really smiled much.”

Last year, Allen dropped out of the medical assisting program because she was stressed about her situation at home, Matthews said.

“They had not been happy for a while and kept trying to work it out,” she said. “I know she wanted a divorce.”

Allen filed for divorce a month before she died, on Dec. 9, but dismissed the complaint soon after, on Dec. 16, according to court documents.

After Matthews convinced Allen to return to school, she was one lab away from finishing her medical assisting program when she died. Beal College is planning to hold a vigil in Allen’s honor next week, said Chief Operating Officer Steve Villett.

On their last meeting at Wendy’s in Bangor, exactly a week before her death, Allen seemed stressed and upset, but not scared for her safety, Matthews said.

“I never heard her say he did anything physically to her. Emotionally I would say there was some abuse,” she said. “If I thought something like that would happen I would’ve told her to come to my house. I just never thought it would come to this.”