Friends and family of Rhonda Pattelena gathered under a pavilion at Short Sands in York on Friday evening, week after she was found dead on the beach.

The body of a woman, identified as Pattelena, 35, of Bedford, Massachusetts, was located behind a rock after police received calls she was being assaulted by a man, according to Maine State Police.

Standing in a large circle wearing purple masks and holding candles they remembered the mother of three boys on at the place she loved to come every summer at gathering hosted by Caring Unlimited, a York County domestic violence resource center which provided a live video stream of the memorial.

"I know Rhonda's looking down at us right now smiling at everybody because this is all for her. Thank you so much," a woman told the crowd which responded, "we love you."

A co-worker from a Massachusetts elder care facility addressed the crowd and said the residents had no stronger advocate than Pattelena.

"She cared so much and spoke out even when it was unpopular. She cared for everyone whether she was technically responsible for them or not. Like her mom Laurie Rhonda had a huge heart for everyone.

A woman named Laura told the crowd she was Rhonda's best friend and had once saved her from a domestic violence situation. She said her kids would talk to her if they couldn't talk to their mother.

"She's my angel and she will always be my angel," she said, vowing to find justice for her friend.

The grandfather to her son Bobby got a laugh out of the crowd when he talked about how her three boys would take their shoes off and hang up their coats when they went to "papa's house," something they didn't always do at home.

"I miss her smile. She could light up a room. She always had that one little smile," he said.

A woman named Kelly who said she lived in York said she was a 15 year survivor of domestic violence and said that community also felt the devastation of her family's loss.

"Rhonda cared and loved and wanted to see somebody change. We believe that people change," Kelly said. "Domestic violence is not just one. It's all. Rhonda believed and she trusted and she gave her all as most survivors do. We will always cherish her in this place she called Tranquil and a place she loved. She was the mermaid of your beach."

Part of the funds from a GoFundMe page will go towards a backless bench in her memory on Long Sands Beach.

"I figured as long as it's at 'York Beach' that's all that mattered," friend Melissa Matranga wrote on the GoFundMe page she organized for Pattelena's family.

Jeffrey Buchannan, 33, was captured on surveillance video from a business obtained by police hitting Pattelena while she was turned away from him, according to the affidavit obtained by the Bangor Daily News. Buchannan, the father of one of her children, is being held at the York County Jail.

Callers to police reported seeing a man dragging a woman behind some rocks after she had been struck, according to the affidavit.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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