Ariah Jacques of Bangor, who died last week in a murder-suicide, was especially kind and caring, loved music, animals and watching movies, and had dreams of being a mother one day, according to her best friend of six years.
Taleesha Lewis-Belote, 24, of Bangor met Jacques, 24, through a mutual friend when they were both 18 and going through a tough time. She said Jacques genuinely listened to her, offered good advice and cared for her when she felt alone.
“I’ve never met someone who understood me so well and I understood her,” Lewis-Belote said. “It’s like we spoke the same language. Now all I want to do is talk to her.”
Bangor police found Jacques dead alongside John Neff, 57, of Bangor after officers responded to complaints that shots had been fired at a G Street home in Birch Hill Estates on Jan. 12.
An autopsy report determined that Jacques had been shot, and that Neff died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the Bangor Police Department. Jacques’ manner of death was ruled a homicide, while Neff’s was ruled a suicide.
Bangor police said on Tuesday the case remains open until they receive reports from the medical examiner’s office.
Lewis-Belote said she didn’t know Neff or why the pair were together.
Lewis-Belote and Jacques lived in the Shaw House, a youth homeless shelter in Bangor, for about a year when they were 20, Lewis-Belote said. Though the experience was challenging at times, Lewis-Belote said she leaned on Jacques for support.
“She was feisty and strong-willed — you couldn’t get her to do anything she didn’t want to do,” she said. “We’d get in little fights like sisters, but I knew we’d always be friends. She was my person, my family.”
Lewis-Belote said her favorite memories with Jacques were when they spent time together driving or walking around town, going to the beach or cooking dinner for one another.
Jacques liked rap music, art, watching movies, shopping and makeup, Lewis-Belote said. She was also an animal lover and especially loved owls and her cat, Laila.
While her career aspirations shifted, Lewis-Belote said Jacques had a passion for helping people and wanted to explore places outside of Maine. But more than anything, she wanted to be a mother one day.
“I thought we were going to grow old together, be neighbors and have kids,” she said. “I never thought someone would take her from us.”
Lewis-Belote said Jacques struggled with substance use throughout the time she knew her, but that she could always count on Jacques to help her out of a bad situation, defend her and be by her side when she needed her.
“She’s one of the only people who called me after my dad died and offered her condolences,” Lewis-Belote said. “I always had hope that Ariah would get better. She wanted to get sober, and it makes me sad that she’ll never get the chance to get better. She didn’t see how awesome she was.”