When asked to recall one moment in the life of Joy Patricia Hayward, friends of the Annapolis resident spoke instead of her continual, contagious good cheer.
"You knew the day started when she came down the stairs in her zebra-print bathrobe and told you how great the day was going to be," said Jenny Martin, a business student at Salisbury University who shared a house with Hayward and two other women last year. "There were four girls in our house - all strong personalities - but Joy was the strongest of them all."
As police in Pennsylvania continued yesterday to investigate the death of the 28-year-old Hayward, friends and family members mourned a young woman they described as thoughtful, vivacious and life-loving, one they never imagined becoming the victim of a heinous crime.
Hayward, a 1993 graduate of Annapolis High School, was found dead Thursday evening in a Days Inn in Chester, Pa., police said. Although the cause of death has not been determined, law enforcement officials have said Hayward was the apparent victim of asphyxiation homicide.
Hayward checked into the motel alone at 1:36 a.m. Thursday, said Sgt. Paul Willard of the Chester police. She is thought to have been killed that morning, about 12 hours before motel maids found her body, said Willard, citing the local coroner's report.
Willard said there were no signs of forced entry into Hayward's room, leading investigators to think she was killed by an acquaintance.
"We have people we're interested in talking to. To say they're suspects may be premature," said Willard, who is supervising the detectives investigating the case. "I think we have a good chance of solving this one."
Hayward received a bachelor's degree in psychology from Salisbury University in 2000. In 2002, she returned to study elementary education. Although she did not complete her education degree, family members said, she planned to become a teacher like her mother, Claire Hayward, an art instructor at Northern Middle School in Calvert County.
Martin said Hayward was active in student clubs, campus activities and political rallies, in addition to her work as a nanny and as a volunteer at the Humane Society.
Martin kept in contact with Hayward, calling her recently to share "girl talk."
An Annapolis native, Hayward attended Annapolis High School, where she participated in dance, drama and cheerleading. Family members said she loved animals, the beach and cooking.
When her father was found to have advanced cancer in 2002, she moved in with her parents to care for them, family members said. After her father died, Hayward continued to live with her mother in the 500 block of Corbin Parkway.