Every victim of violent crime is more than a case number, more than a police report, more than a statistic.
So are the accused.
When Henry Chiarkas first came to know Nuria and Alois Kudlach, it was 2012.
“My wife and I met them when we sold them their house,” said the real estate agent.
The couple came to the Centre Region from Johnstown. They bought the two-story house on Gregor Way in College Township where police responded Sunday to a domestic violence incident. The once smiling brunette was dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Her husband was arrested and arraigned for murder on Tuesday.
Their neighbors were surprised. Norita Chyle said she was “saddened and shocked” by the tragedy.
So was Chiarkas.
“We became really good pals,” he said. “They were really quippy, entertaining people. Very smart people. Very accommodating.”
In fact, Chiarkas sold more than a house. Nuria Kudlach bought into the dream of a new career. It wasn’t long before she reached out to him to say that she wanted to go into real estate. She called to tell him she was taking classes and asked if she could join State College-based Home Edge Realty Group to start her career. It took some time to get her license, but when she did, she joined the business with enthusiasm in March.
“She really loved people and she loved houses,” Chiarkas said. “If I asked her to do anything, she jumped in the car and ran.”
That zeal had just paid off in her first sale, a challenging for-sale-by-owner. Chiarkas said his last communication with her was a text on Saturday. She was excited to come to work on Monday because the sale was about to be listed with her as the selling agent.
“She didn’t do it for the money. She was having a good time,” he said.
That’s a different picture than her husband paints in the police report, where Alois Kudlach told investigators a story of how Sunday’s events unfolded that included the victim brandishing a knife and the accused claiming he had prepared to use the .45-caliber handgun in self-defense.
The events surprised Chiarkas, but so does that story.
“I just don’t know where that all came from,” he said. “Al did not come off as a violent man at all. I never heard a bad thing said by either one about the other.”
What he does know is that Sunday’s events will leave an empty spot in his office.
“It’s just too darn bad. She will be missed. She’s already missed. There’s a void. Her son is never going to be the same,” Chiarkas said. “If you had told me this would be the outcome, I would never have believed it.”