Friend remembers 78-year-old Frances Axley, Naples homicide victim

Collier County investigators are intensifying their search for a suspect in a Naples killing, and we’re getting our first look at who the victim, 78-year-old Frances Axley, is.

She moved to Southwest Florida in 1996.

Her friend, who moved here with her says she was well liked, saying she was a dedicated woman. Dedicated to her work as a guidance counselor at Collier County Public Schools, and to her faith.

But her life tragically ended at her home on Chesapeake Avenue where she was found dead Tuesday afternoon.

Rev. Alan Coe of Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ said, “Everybody knew her as Fran, not Frances.”

Fingerprint dust now left behind on Axley’s front door in Naples is the only visible trace of a murder investigation from New Year’s Day.

A friend of Axley for more than 20 years didn’t want to identify himself. He said, “Very grim. I mean, its very sad because even my family they all knew her very well and she was a really nice person.”

He says he and Axley moved down to Naples together from Waterloo, Illinois.

She came out of retirement in 1998, going back to work as a guidance counselor for CCPS before retiring again in 2011.

Her friend said she couldn’t take retirement, “She just couldn’t do it. She went back to work as a teacher and she got a job instantly because she had so much experience.”

He says Axley split her time between Southwest Florida and with family back in the midwest.

He said she would spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with her family and then come back to SWFL.

Even though she was only here during season Axley was well known at her church.

Rev. Alan Coe said, She always wanted to do something more and often times the first one to arrive. No matter what it was she wanted to be involved in all aspects of the church.”

Coe says he saw Axley at church Sunday, just two days before she was found dead.

He has this message for his congregation: “Our faith tells us that we have to rely on the resurrection and that will give us peace. We know that fran is at peace even though she suffered a very difficult death.”

Axley was also well known by her neighbors who described her as a kind woman.

Naples police say they’ve identified a person of interest, but say they don’t think that person is in Southwest Florida anymore.

Reporter:Taylor Petras
Writer:Derrick Shaw
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