Jennifer Dowell embraced life, cared about those around her and had a soft spot for animals, the homicide victim's ex-husband said.
"She was a people person," said James Dowell. "She loved to have fun, she loved to laugh and carry on. She was a happy person."
The Dowells were together for 24 years. Although divorced, they remained close, he said.
"She was my best friend," James Dowell said. "I miss her friendship. I miss the times we had. ... She was beautiful."
Jen Dowell was a beach girl, regularly going to Ocean City, Md., to swim, sunbathe and hang out, he said.
She also was an avid gardener, and the back yard of James Dowell's home shows just how passionate she was about it.
Vibrantly colored lilies are nestled next to water fountains, and red monarda -- a favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds -- is just coming into bloom.
In one small area of the yard are two beach chairs and a beach umbrella.
James Dowell said his ex-wife used to say, "If we can't go to the beach, at least we can sit here."
Businesswoman: Jen Dowell, of Cedar Village Drive in Manchester Township, most recently worked as a waitress at Bob Evans restaurant in West Manchester Township. But for seven or eight years she was her own boss.
She owned and ran The Kangaroo's Pouch, a shop at Thomasville's Morningstar Marketplace until last fall, James Dowell said.
"I helped her start the business, but she ran with it," Dowell said. She named it after one of her favorite animals.
But of all animals, her own -- three dogs and one cat -- were her favorites.
"Her animals were the love of her life," he said.
Missing pet: As he spoke about her Monday from his Manchester Township home, two of their three dogs -- Peachy and Gracie -- vied for his attention.
The Dowells shared custody of their dogs, and all three were at Jen Dowell's house when she was killed by a blow to the head, allegedly by estranged boyfriend Ross William Crawford, police said.
"The dogs had to lay there with her body," he said. "Now they're looking for her to come through my door. ... She called them her goldies."
Their third dog, 19-year-old blind Yorkshire terrier Abigail, is missing.
"(Crawford) hated her," Dowell said the Yorkie. He said he believes Crawford killed Abigail, then discarded the tiny dog's body outside somewhere. Police confirmed they so far have not found Abigail.
SPCA volunteer: Jen Dowell's cat, Little Man, is being taken in by a family member, he said. Jen volunteered for a time at the York County SPCA, and adopted Little Man after he was badly burned in a fire, according to Dowell.
Jen Dowell grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore, and her survivors include three adult sons, Justin Fleckenstein and twins Jeffrey and Jeremy Fleckenstein, according to Dowell.
A memorial service is being planned, he said. Donations in Jen Dowell's name can be made to the York County SPCA, 3159 Susquehanna Trail North, York 17406, or at ycspca.org.
-- Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at email@example.com.