BOCA RATON, Fla. — Georgianna Worden was a 38-year-old single mother of two daughters, Kara and Stephanie, living in Boca Raton in 1984 — the year she was killed by Duane Owen while her children slept in another room.
"I do remember the trips to Florida quite well," Trevor Staniec told WPTV.
He is the nephew of Worden, whom he called his aunt "Georgia."
Staniec has always lived in the New York area and said his family would visit Worden's about once a year.
"I remember looking forward to that," he said.
Staniec said his aunt had many layers to her personality and what she considered important.
"She had plenty of struggle, worked two jobs as a single mom to raise and protect her two daughters," he said.
Staniec said his cousins recall "just how joyful she often would be."
"She was a small woman — she was barely 5 feet tall — and Kara described her as, you know, small body, small face, huge smile, all the time," Staniec said. "And that was also something that resonated with my mom — just how Georgia was one of the most fun people that my mom has ever had the opportunity to be around. She loved to spend time with her."
Staniec credited Worden with making sure he and his cousins had a chance to spend time together.
"Georgia would always make sure that we had opportunities to be together, particularly when we visited, even when she came up north to visit us — plan beach days, things like that, almost always spearheaded and organized by Georgia," Staniec said.
Staniec said he recalls her as "loving" and "engaging."
"I think I really missed out on knowing who she was, you know? Because we didn't get the opportunity to spend 40-odd years together," Staniec said.
Staniec was 10 years old when his aunt was killed.
"Georgia was killed during one of our visits to Florida. We were there," he said. "We were in the state, and so we were present when the authorities called the house."
Staniec said it's a memory he recalls "quite vividly."
"I remember feeling terribly confused," Staniec said about that telephone call. "Because I was too young to fully appreciate, in the moment, what was happening. I just knew it was bad."
Mary Lou Metzger was Worden's best friend, and she was with her just hours before the murder. The two had gotten together at Metzger's home to watch a Barry Manilow concert on television.
"I think she gave me strength through a lot of things," Metzger said. "There was something about her. She was just a strong personality for this little pip-squeak. I mean, that's all I can say, she was this little thing, but boy, the energy she had and the pistol she was, she gave everybody a lot of energy and life."
Metzger said she still thinks "What if?"
"I think about that quite a bit, you know, because it was such a special friendship, and I'm just thankful that we did have the time together," Metzger said.
Both Metzger and Staniec described Worden as a mother whose world revolved around her daughters.
Kara and Stephanie moved in with Staniec's family after their mother's death.
"It was a big change, right, but it's what you do for family," he said. "You know, it was the obvious course of action."
Staniec said he was glad they came to live with him.
"It didn't fracture us," Staniec said. "It didn't destroy us. We worked hard. We took vacations. We did our extra-curriculars, you know? We had our Christmases. We tried to find our own joys in the ways that people can."
Staniec gave credit to his parents and cousins for making it work.
"For as abnormal as our family situation was, I think we made our childhood as normal, suburban children would have in the '80s," he said.
Kara and Stephanie are now adults who visit Florida and their mother's final resting place from time to time. Staniec said both have careers and significant others.
"I think that I would tell Georgia that she should be proud of her daughters," Staniec said if he could convey one thing to his late aunt. "I think I would distill it down to that. She should be very, very proud of her daughters."