A longtime Annapolis resident and 1993 Annapolis High School graduate was found dead in a Pennsylvania motel room last week - apparently the victim of an asphyxiation homicide, according to local law enforcement officials.
Joy Patricia Hayward, 28, of the 500 block of Corbin Parkway was found dead Thursday evening in a Days Inn near Chester, Pa., officials said.
A relative said last night that Hayward was in the area visiting a boyfriend.
Police said they are unsure when Howard was killed. They declined to discuss the case because of their investigation.
Her family was notified of her death Thursday night, but learned secondhand from news reports that she had been asphyxiated, the relative said.
"Her life was ripped away from her at such a young age," said the relative. "God could not have protected her from this."
According to the relative, Hayward practiced ballet for many years, studying with a dance school in Annapolis. While in high school, she was a cheerleader and a member of the drama stage crew.
Hayward graduated from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in psychology and a teaching certificate. It was her goal to become a teacher like her mother, who is on the faculty of a middle school in Calvert County, the relative said.
When Hayward's father was found to have advanced cancer in 2002, she moved in with her parents so she could care for them, the relative said. When her father died, the daughter prepared keepsake photo albums for family members.
"She was a really good person," the relative said. "None of us can understand how this could happen to her."
The Associated Press contributed to this article.