HARTFORD — Neighbors said mother of two Ana Cordeiro, 41, was an architect who had planned to design her family’s house someday.

Police say Cordeiro was a victim of homicide, dying Thursday in her home on Bear Mountain Road. Her boyfriend, Rondon Athayde, has been charged with murder.

The small neighborhood was stunned. “Somebody I thought had so much character turned into a monster,” Armand Rowe of Turner said Friday.

Rowe rented the property at 62 Bear Mountain Road to Cordeiro and Athayde on a rent-to-own basis. He made a handshake deal with the couple, and the couple honored their end.

The couple kept to themselves once they moved in. Although they exchanged Christmas presents with their neighbors, they found ways to avoid get-togethers, neighbors said.

“I would invite them down for cookouts, but they usually kept to themselves,” said neighbor Valerie Patenaude.

“I used to joke how it was like they were in the witness protection program,” said Rowe, but he justified his feelings because Cordeiro and Athayde were from Brazil, and the culture was different.

According to Rowe, Athayde said that he and Cordeiro came to Hartford with the intention of farming blueberries. He said he had a business connection in Brazil that would help him sell blueberries to yogurt companies.

Rowe said Cordeiro had purchased more than 100 acres in Hartford off Church Street to use the property for blueberry growing and may have been in the process of buying another similar parcel. The couple, however, had told Rowe they were not able to get financing for a mortgage to buy the Bear Mountain Road home from Rowe.

An acquaintance of the couple feared Cordeiro was a victim of domestic violence. On the Sun Journal’s Facebook page, reader Tanya Bobby Bennett commented, “He has gotten away with bringing her pain for way (too) long. We all saw it, the covered-up bruises but there was nothing we could do.” Bennett could not be reached for further comment Friday.

Neighbors Patenaude and Linda Porter said they hadn’t seen signs of domestic violence.

Rowe said that three days before Cordeiro’s death, the couple had paid the property taxes and their rent was paid ahead. “He had 20 or 30,000 already invested in the property.”

Cordeiro was an employee of Lowe’s in Auburn. Maureen Wallace of Lowe’s public relations declined to comment, saying only that grief counselors had been on site.

If the house ends up back in Rowe’s hands, he plans to have the American Legion find a veteran to live there. “Any good memories I have there are destroyed,” Rowe said. “I look at the house now and see Ana.”

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