WORCESTER, Mass. - In her 31 years of life, her parents say Amanda Dabrowski always pushed the boundaries.
Ed and Beth Dabrowski say that since she was a baby, Amanda charted her own course and lived and thought outside the box.
Her life was cut tragically short but her parents say that will not diminish the legacy she leaves behind.
"She wasn't afraid to challenge," her mother, Beth, said.
They say as a child she had an abundance of confidence. She was the first girl on an all-boy intramural basketball team.
A native of Webster, a small town on the Connecticut border, Amanda was the only one at her high school accepted at Northeastern University. She spent several years in Boston and then decided to explore life down south and moved to Florida.
She was always up for a new adventure and pushed her parents to try new things too.
"We're kind of old-fashioned and didn't do a lot of things, and she was always after us to do things," her father, Ed, said.
That was especially true with food. Amanda loved travel, food and wine -- topics she discussed in her own blog The Glorious Grape.
Last summer, Amanda decided to bring her adventures back home to Webster.
In October, she got a job as a microbiologist at pharmaceutical giant Bristol Myers Squibb in Devens.
A short time later, she moved into her own apartment in Ayer. And in March, her parents said, she was on top of the world after getting a promotion and a raise.
Around this time, she started dating a co-worker, a man named Carlos Asencio. Her parents say it was a brief relationship. That Amanda wanted to focus on herself, so she broke it off after only two months. That’s when her horror began.
"I think we have to make certain that some of the things that happened to her at the end of her life don't happen to anyone else," Ed said.
Police records say Asencio “did not take the break up well.” Investigators documented harassment at work. Amanda’s parents say she planned to report it at work, but she never got the chance.
On Easter Sunday, Asencio broke into Amanda’s home and violently attacked her, police said.
Court paperwork shows Asencio fled the country. First he went to Canada, then on to Mexico. Authorities issued an arrest warrant for attempted murder and notified federal agencies that he was on the run.
Somehow, he ended up back in the United States and eventually tracked her down while she was at a book club at a Worcester restaurant. How he got into the country is a question that has remained unanswered.
"This doesn't make sense," Ed said. "Someday, somebody will explain it to us."
Amanda’s parents can’t weigh in on the investigation, so for now, they focus on how she lived rather than on how she died. But they say they hope that what happened to her could lead to changes that save lives.
"Right now we can't comprehend. But we have to try to stay composed," Ed said. "As I said earlier, just fight for her so that it'll make somebody else's life better, easier and not as unfair as it was to her."
Not only are there questions about how this man got back into the country, but the parents also want answers as to why Amanda was terminated from her job two days after she was attacked on Easter Sunday.
They say they are also fighting for change for better employment protections for victims of domestic violence.
We’ll get into that plus the disturbing things the suspect, Carlos Asencio, may have been doing in the days and weeks leading up to the murder of Amanda Dabrowski in part two of this report.
Watch part two on Boston 25 News at 10 p.m. July 24.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.