When Katherine Randolph White invited a friend from rehab to stay with her until he got on his feet, she was applying a lesson learned in group meetings: Help those in need, and they will then help themselves and others.
It was a good deed that likely cost the 32-year-old archaeologist her life, White's mother said. The houseguest, Christopher Perkins O'Brien, was charged with second-degree murder after he confessed to strangling White, according to court records.
O'Brien, of the 200 block of Winchester Beach Drive in Annapolis, is being held without bond at an Anne Arundel County detention center.
Though O'Brien, 33, told police that he was White's boyfriend, White's mother, Rebecca Randolph, said there wasn't much of a relationship.
Randolph met O'Brien when she went to Hope House in Crownsville to visit her daughter, who was seeking help for alcohol abuse and was trying to mend her marriage.
Her daughter married William Brian White in July, but the couple had been temporarily living apart -- alcohol had led to various problems, Randolph said.
Court documents also showed that the husband was charged with assault.
White left rehab last month after a 22-day stay during which she made much progress, Randolph said.
"She was delightful," Randolph said. "She learned what a magnificent life she had and how fortunate she was. She was comparing herself to others in the group who weren't as fortunate."
O'Brien left the program shortly after White. He moved into her house in the 3000 block of Style Ave. in Laurel around Memorial Day.
But White soon learned that O'Brien had been arrested for assault, which court documents proved. She told her family she was afraid and wanted him out of her house.
"The first time she told him to leave, he started to cry," Randolph said. "The second time, he left, and as far as the family knew, he was gone. And he was not there until Sunday night."
On Sunday, Randolph and White made tentative dinner plans. They spoke on the phone, and White said she would call her mother back if she could meet her for dinner. That was the last time Randolph spoke to her daughter.
Sometime that night, O'Brien told police, he and White were drinking and then began to fight, and he strangled her, Anne Arundel County court records show.
Over the next two days, O'Brien sat with White's body, uncertain about what to do next, he told county police. On Tuesday, Randolph decided to check on her daughter. E-mails and phone calls to White had gone unanswered, and Randolph was concerned. She arrived at the house about 4 p.m.
"I fiddled with the door lock, and then I felt someone take the deadbolt off and it was Chris standing there," Randolph recalled. "I asked him what he was doing there, and the look on his face when I walked through the door was flat and blank."
There on the kitchen floor was White's body, covered with a rug.
"I took the rug off her face, and he kept screaming," Randolph said. "I told him to go sit down and shut up and not to move. Where I got the courage, I have no idea. And then I called the police."
Anne Arundel County police arrived within minutes and took O'Brien into custody.