WALDOBORO, Maine — Artistic. Loving. Generous.
These are some of the words that Rachel Grindal’s family and friends used to describe her, days after the 27-year-old was killed in Waldoboro.
“She was beautiful, a beautiful person,” Madalynn Wiggins said Friday.
Wiggins, 21, said she and Grindal legally married each other in Springfield, Mass., on April 20, 2008. Grindal died just one day shy of the couple’s first wedding anniversary.
Wiggins still lives in Waldoboro, but was interviewed by phone Friday from Connecticut, where she has been visiting with family to get away from the upsetting news stories about the killing.
Grindal was a great mom to her 4-year-old son, Gavin, Wiggins said. She described how the two would “play deejay” every morning.
“They’d dance around the house, usually to Salt ‘n’ Pepa,” she said.
While the two women recently had what Wiggins termed a “rough patch” in their marriage, those days were behind them, she said. About a month ago, Grindal had filed a request for a protection from abuse order in Lincoln County District Court. Her request was dismissed on April 9, after Grindal missed a hearing.
“We’ve been seeing each other behind the protection order,” Wiggins said.
They even had made plans to have another marriage ceremony this summer at Pemaquid Beach — where they made sand castles together last January.
It was important for Grindal that her family and friends be there, Wiggins said.
“She wanted her father to give her away,” Wiggins said. “She loved her parents very much.”
While Grindal had gone through some difficult years in the past, she was moving into the future with grace and integrity, Wiggins said.
“She’s cleaned her life up,” she said.
Grindal worked at Paco’s Tacos, a family-run Mexican restaurant in Damarasicotta where the owner and staff said they adored her kind heart, business sense and dynamite guacamole. But she hoped to open an art gallery for teens in downtown Damarasicotta. It would be a safe place for young people to hang out, she told her family and friends.
“She had so many dreams of things she was going to do,” said Angela Morelli, the owner of Paco’s Tacos, who described Grindal as more of a friend than an employee.
Morelli and her 15-year-old son, Nick Morelli, sat Friday at a table of the cozy basement eatery and remembered Grindal.
“Everyone loved her,” Nick Morelli said. “She was like an older sister to me. She was really an amazing person.”
Grindal would take him shopping at the mall and introduced him to different bands. She also pushed him and his friends to stay away from drugs, to avoid “the negative things,” he said.
But she didn’t sugarcoat her own history.
“She told us she doesn’t regret her past,” Nick said. “She learned from it.”
When Nick heard from a friend Monday that Grindal had been attacked and killed, he didn’t believe it.
“I said, ‘You’ve got the wrong Rachel,’” he recalled.
But it was the right Rachel.
Nick and his mom held each other as they absorbed the shock and the pain of the bad news.
“It was really rough,” Nick said.
Angela Morelli, who held back tears several times as she talked about Grindal on Friday, said that going to the funeral today in Newcastle would be hard.
“I don’t know if saying goodbye will make it better. I don’t know,” she said, her voice breaking.
For Wiggins, who is returning to Maine for the funeral service, not much right now is making it better. She knew Earl “Buddy” Bieler and Corina Durkee, who have been charged with Grindal’s murder.
“They took advantage of her kind heart constantly,” Wiggins said. “They definitely took advantage of Rachel. And then they took her life.”
Prison time wouldn’t be “much of a punishment” for them, she said. Not compared with Wiggins’ own reality right now.
“My world has been torn apart,” she said. “I love my wife very much. It’s hard to wake up without her.”