The warning signs were there, and many members of her family and friends could see that she was in an abusive relationship, according to her mother.
Keenan Reece Harpole, her on-again, off-again boyfriend and former star athlete from Bend, answered second chances even after he struck her earlier this year. She didn't go to police or school officials.
"Mara tried to end it several times, but she kept going back, unfortunately," said Marluke's mother, using a nickname for her daughter. "We all knew how to protect our loved ones," she said. "We all tried to ensure she never returned to him.
Amy Marluke has heard an outpouring from friends and relatives since her daughter was discovered murdered early April 4 off the campus of PSU.
Harpole, 20, a Mountain View High School graduate, has been charged in her murder and is being held without bail at the Detention Center in Multnomah.
He was scheduled to murder and a weapons charge at a brief arraignment hearing on Thursday, and he had a date set for his next appearance.
On Thursday, April 14, 2022, Keenan Harpole and his attorney made a brief appearance in the Multnomah County Circuit Court.Dave Killen / The Oregonian
The shooting happened outside a convenience store near Sixth Avenue and SW College Street on the PSU campus around 1 a.m. April 4th. According to Marluke's mother, the shooting location is directly between her apartment and her workplace.
Harpole was arrested on a property his family owns outside Bend, a drive from Portland seven hours later.
In Harpole's charge, police have not released a suspected motive or other information in the killing, but authorities describe it as domestic violence.
Harpole was Marluke's first boyfriend, according to her mother. Amara in high school said she wasn't interested in dating. It's possible that the average high school student was separated from Amara, who was wise beyond her years in many ways.
"Although he was her first girlfriend, I think that helped her to make her feel as if she was the only one who would accept her completely," Amy Marluke said.
Amara Marluke spent years recuperating from childhood trauma.
She met her biological mother and younger siblings until the age of 6, when the state placed their children in foster care. At the age of 9, Amy and Brad Marluke, a Beaverton IT consultant and carpenter, married a 2-year-old boy.
It was the hardest time in my life, and I'm not going to lie, Amy Marluke said. I think I was prepared for it to be challenging, but what I didn't expect was how much we would have to modify.
Years of learning were spent assisting students, learning healthy boundaries, and working with therapists to heal some of Amara's old wounds.
She went from being two years behind in school to graduating with honors at the age of 18 when she died, and she was always inclining toward pursued a career in music or art therapy.
While doing laundry, she met Keenan Harpole on the same floor of the University Pointe student apartments off campus. At the time, he was a running back on the PSU football team.
Other warning signs in their relationship, however, are present in retrospect. Harpole never wanted to meet his girlfriend's parents. At the last minute, he'd "freak out" and cancel. However, after reaching Amara, Harpole was not interested in meeting her parents. Amy Marluke said that by this point, the family was not interested.
We were attempting to ensure that she avoided him, Amy Marluke said. He was certainly a huge fan of manipulation.
Amara Marluke, a Portland State University student, was fatally shot early on April 4, 2022. Photo by Amara Marluke's family.
Thursday, close friends of Harpole's family were not asked to make a comment. On Monday, one of Harpole's relatives was among the ten witnesses who submitted a testimony to a grand jury in Multnomah County, according to witnesses. A medical examiner, a fellow PSU student, and several Portland police officers also attended the funeral.
Harpole has retained defense attorney Benjamin Kim, who declined to comment. Kim moved to Portland after practicing in Deschutes County, where he represented several high-profile homicide defendants, including and.
Green Hammer Design-Build, a firm based in Brad Marluke, has established a program to fund funeral expenses. It has been so successful, and the family is in discussions about a scholarship at PSU.
Amara became passionate about racial justice after graduating from Sunset High School, where she excelled among kids with similar life experiences.
So it's likely she would have fought for domestic violence victims, according to her mother.
"It's not one of her symptoms, but I think it would have been since she became involved in that relationship," her mother said. "So we are going to be fighting that on her behalf."
| The Bulletin
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