A 42-year-old Grundy Center man now faces first degree murder charges for killing his 41-year-old girlfriend. Edward Neessen was initially arrested and charged with willful injury for beating his girlfriend, Cinda LaRue, in early December.

Three days later, LaRue’s 19-year-old daughter had to make the decision to take her mother off life support. Alishia Ryerson says it was a tough decision. “She’s the only parent I have. She raised all of us,” Ryerson says. “She taught us everything.”

Mary Birke was LaRue’s best friend. “She left three children behind,” she says. “She’s got two young children (who) still needed her and now she’s not there to help them.” In addition to her 19-year-old daughter, LaRue had a 13-year-old and a 12-year-old. Neessen and LaRue had lived together in LaRue’s home in Grundy Center for about three years, and the woman’s family and friends say the two argued frequently.

Debby Beenken says her sister was unconscious when help arrived. “I was at the house…right after it happened and I knew it wasn’t good,” Beenken says. Birke says her best friend’s death seems so senseless. “Cinda was a very loving and caring person,” Birke says. “Cinda took me out of two of my relationships that I had so this kinda, you know, is upsetting to me that she ended up this way.” If convicted of first degree murder, Neesen would be sentenced to life in prison.