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In recognition of Kelli Keesee's love for animals the Keesee family is asking for donations to the Calvert Animal Welfare League P.O. Box 1660 Prince Frederick, MD 20678.

Balloons soared through the sky July 19 as friends and family honored a former Waldorf resident who was killed in Las Vegas earlier this month.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department reported that July 16, officers got a call from the Los Angeles Police Department about a man, later identified as Martin Skropeta, 54, who confessed to killing his roommate Kelli Keesee, 50, in Las Vegas.

Officers found Keesee dead at her home.

Keesee died from blunt force trauma, according to information provided by the Clark County Coroner's Office.

Skropeta was arrested in California based on the investigation and is awaiting extradition back to Las Vegas, according to a Las Vegas police news release.

Keesee grew up in Charles County and attended Thomas Stone High School in the early 1980s.

Her sister, Lori Keesee of Chesapeake Beach, said Keesee had been living in Las Vegas since March 2013.

Lori Keesee said her sister was the type of person whom everyone loved, and she had a love for all kinds of animals.

She recalled a story about how Keesee once ran out in the middle of a highway in Las Vegas to rescue a kitten. She also recalled her sister reprimanding a woman she witnessed trying to “run down” a pigeon.

“There was no animal she didn't love,” Lori Keesee said.

The kindness she showed for animals was similar to the kindness she had for people, according to family and friends.

Lori Keesee recalls their father Albert Keesee noting of her willingness to give, “If she had a dime in her pocket, that dime was yours.”

She said Skropeta had been living with Keesee since April and that she took him in as a roommate after finding out he was going to be homeless.

She said Keesee had recently asked Skropeta to move out due to him not contributing to bills in the time he was living there.

Keesee visited Southern Maryland in June to attend a high school reunion picnic at Gilbert Run Park and to visit family.

Close friend Jay Sprouse of Hughesville said a group of friends and family gathered at Gilbert Run after her death for a toast and balloon release in Keesee's honor. Family members held a candlelight vigil in Las Vegas earlier this week, too.

Lori Keesee said friends and family unable to get to Las Vegas participated by lighting a candle at the same time as the vigil.

After the vigil, Lori Keesee said her sister's friends told nice stories about Keesee and how “she was always laughing and joking with people.”

Sprouse said Gilbert Run was fitting for the balloon release as Keesee had just been there for the reunion.

About 26 people attended the balloon launch Saturday.

Sprouse said friends and family wrote messages on balloons prior to releasing them, and people later gathered at a friend's house to reminisce.

“She was just a good person.” Sprouse said.

He recalled her love for animals, especially cats.

He said she was a big supporter of the humane society.

Lori said family members will care for Keesee's two cats.

In recognition of her love for animals, Lori Keesee said family is asking for donations to the Calvert Animal Welfare League in Prince Frederick.

The family will hold a memorial cookout Aug. 16 for Keesee. Lori Keesee said a cookout is what her sister wanted.

Those interested in attending are asked to email lorikeesee@msn.com for details.

gphillips@somdnews.com