Katherine Cole rarely spoke of her daughter's downward spiral.
But Cole's best friend, Tara Klimek, pieced together some details over the years.
First came the recession, when Autumn Cole lost her job, Klimek said. Her marriage dissolved around the same time.
Later, Klimek watched the daughter struggle with mental health problems and rumored drug use.
She spent several months living with her mother, Klimek said.
"At one time, Autumn was an educated, intelligent girl," Klimek said. "Their relationship was strained, but she (Katherine) was trying to help her."
On Tuesday, Las Vegas police announced that Autumn Cole, 44, had been arrested on murder charges in connection with her mother's death and robbery.
Two men, Lorenzo Cardenas-Sanchez, 37, and Joseph Perez, 44, also were arrested. Perez, a felon with priors for sexual assault and burglary, was Autumn Cole's boyfriend.
Katherine Cole, 68, was strangled last week after she walked in on a burglary at her home near Valley View and Oakey boulevards. Police said she was attacked in her bedroom and bound with a bathrobe tie and bedsheet.
All three suspects were arrested on multiple felonies, including murder of an older person, robbery, kidnapping and burglary.
According to Autumn Cole's arrest report, both Perez and Cardenas-Sanchez said she participated in the planning and execution of her mother's killing.
Initial reports said police were looking for two Hispanic men caught on surveillance video using Katherine Cole's bank cards. The reports did not mention a female suspect.
Although both men denied being inside the home when the woman was strangled, they each admitted to stealing her car and using her bank cards, the arrest report said. Both men told police that Autumn Cole was inside the home during the crime.
When police stopped Perez and Autumn Cole in a vehicle Monday, they found her mother's bank cards.
The three were living in a Fremont Street weekly motel, police said.
According to the report, Autumn Cole did not make a statement to detectives.
Klimek said she couldn't believe the daughter was involved in such a heinous act against her own mother. She questioned the woman's mental state.
"I don't want to say she was bipolar. I'm not a professional. But there were peaks and valleys," Klimek said.
If robbery was the motive, Klimek wondered why her friend was targeted.
The elder Cole had no high-end items; her TV was at least 30 years old.
"If it comes to be proven her daughter murdered her over what little she had " Klimek said, trailing off.
Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Coffin, who had known Katherine Cole since the fifth grade, was at a loss for words Tuesday.
"I just don't know what to say," he said. "Friction in a family can develop unseen to the outside world, and you don't know what it was about."
Autumn Cole's arrest Monday appeared to be the first major one on her record; she had been arrested for misdemeanor drunken driving.
On Tuesday, grief counseling was offered to employees at the South Point, where Katherine Cole -- nicknamed "Charli" -- worked in the accounting department. Her friends were welcome to attend, but Klimek declined.
"I probably should have gone," she said.
Although Autumn Cole's ex-husband had sole custody of their daughter, she was allowed supervised weekly visits -- at Katherine Cole's home, Klimek said, wondering why someone would turn that kind of haven into a place of violence.
"I don't know what tortured place Autumn was in Thursday evening," Klimek said.
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at mblasky@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283.