HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Friends of Houston mortgage lender Carolee Taylor say she was passionate about animals and loved this time of year.
"Christmas all the time, it was her favorite time," recalled realtor Michael Brown. "She went over the top with decorations and it was just her favorite time, and also her birthday."
Taylor was shot to death on Christmas Eve at her uncle's home by a man authorities believe to be her ex-boyfriend.
Devastated friends say Taylor loved Christmas, and celebrating the occasion always brought great joy.
Brown first met Taylor when the two were waiters at P.F. Chang's in the 1990s. They reconnected recently because, as mortgage lender and realtor, both worked in the real estate industry.
"(She was) so selfless, just ear to ear, a big smile, huge supporter of the rodeo, animals were her passion, and she just absolutely loved her daughter," recalled Brown.
Multiple sources tell ABC13 that Taylor and Al Simon, the man accused of her murder, met through friends and bonded over their activism in HLSR committees, among other community interests.
Simon, who has a number of friends in Houston's business community, has not answered the phone from anyone who has reached out.
Sources also tell ABC13 that Taylor and Simon were on a family trip in Louisiana last week, and were involved in a major argument.
Some of her close friends say they knew Taylor was dating someone new, but was unsure of the seriousness of their relationship.
"I had hoped it was a casual relationship," said long-time friend Lisa Cash, who is also in the mortgage business.
"I can't even imagine that he has been able to get away," she said, with tears streaming down her face. "I can't imagine someone who knows him wouldn't say, 'Hey, turn yourself in.'"
Friends have organized a candlelight vigil in honor of Taylor. It's scheduled for this Friday, at 6 p.m. in Cleveland Park, in Houston's Rice Military neighborhood.