The Associated Press
PORT ORCHARD — Family and friends are remembering Amber Coplin as a devoted mother who smiled constantly and could not be deterred when she set her mind to something.
The 30-year-old Port Orchard woman was killed earlier this month in her apartment. Police say her boyfriend, 33-year-old David Kalac, strangled her and posted photos of her body online. He fled from police in Portland before later turning himself in to a sheriff’s deputy. He’s pleaded not guilty to a murder charge.
Most of the media attention focused on Coplin’s accused killer and her public death, so her loved ones spoke with the Kitsap Sun to give voice to her.
They say she was known to break out in song, especially in the car. Sometimes one of her boys would join in. She was described as “head strong” and “stubborn.”
“When she made up her mind to do something, you couldn’t change it,” said Daylene Wey, Amber’s mother, who lives in Oakdale, Calif.
Coplin became pregnant at 16 and immediately made a profound change in her life, her mother said. Almost overnight she matured and accepted the responsibilities of being a parent.
“It was the best thing in the world for her,” Wey said. “She was one of those kids. She was going in one direction, and as a soon as she got pregnant, she did a (turnaround) and went the other way.”
Coplin had four children with her husband, Paul Coplin, from whom she was separated when she was killed. She also counted Paul Coplin’s son from a previous relationship as part of her family. When she died, her oldest son, 13, was living with her. It was he who discovered her body when he came home from school.
Paul Coplin said the children are handling their mother’s death remarkably well and have been a source of strength to him.
“They are just finding their own way,” Paul Coplin said. “If it wasn’t for them, I would probably be losing my mind.”
Coplin wasn’t shy, but she wasn’t an extrovert either. She always had friends, though. One was Wendy Nelson, whom she met about four years ago when the two women were neighbors in Port Orchard. The two spent summers barbecuing on Nelson’s deck. Coplin wasn’t one to tell a lot of jokes, but she was quick with a laugh.
“She had a beautiful laugh,” Nelson said.
Nelson said her first impression of Amber was that she was a driven and tough mother of five boys who kept them in line.
“She loved them to death,” Paul Coplin said.