Michelle Hudnall was petite, but feisty.
She had a megawatt smile and a big, beautiful laugh.
And a knack for making others laugh, too.
"To have either one of the Hudnalls in the room — her or her brother — there's going to be laughing. They’re storytellers. You kind of sit in amazement," said friend Joedie Lee Hosley.
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Hudnall's body was discovered July 5 along the Columbia River shoreline in Franklin County — about eight weeks after investigators believe the 40-year-old Richland woman was beaten and strangled.
Three people — Florentino Jai Castillo, 39, and Benny Rodriguez Lozano Jr. and Guadalupe A. Sanchez, both 27 — were charged Wednesday in Franklin County Superior Court with second-degree murder.
Hudnall, who grew up in Burbank, leaves behind four kids, Corey, Caden, Chloe and Iggy, who range from elementary school age to 19.
Hosley has organized a car wash from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Yoke's Fresh Market on Bombing Range Road in West Richland to help her friend's family. A GoFundMe fundraiser also is set up at gofundme.com/for-our-angel-michelle-hudnall.
Hosley described Hudnall as being "a sister without the DNA."
They met when Hudnall and her family moved to Burbank in 1991.
The pair were joined at the hip through middle school and high school, and their friendship continued into adulthood. "She was a big part of my life," Hosley said.
Hudnall was a bright light, her friend said. Strikingly beautiful, she often earned comparisons to the actress Michelle Pfeiffer, Hosley said.
But she wasn't just a pretty face — she had a good heart, too.
"She was a beautiful person inside and out," Hosley said.
But Hudnall had her struggles. As a young woman, she lost a loved one in a car accident.
"She wasn’t the same Michelle after that," and fell into addiction, Hosley said.
When she dropped off the radar in mid-May, it wasn't entirely out of character because she'd sometimes temporarily be out of touch, Hosley said.
"Sometimes she would come up missing and family would get to looking and posting (online) and she would pop up," the friend said.
But when she didn't return to say goodbye to her sons, who were leaving town for a summer visit with their dad, their alarm grew.
"As soon as she didn't get ahold of the boys, the family did make an attempt to file a missing person report and they were told because of her lifestyle, they couldn't," Hosley said. "They had to go again and tell them they had to, (that) something wasn't right."
Authorities allege that Castillo and Lozano beat and strangled Hudnall around May 14, then dumped her body about a day later in the river. Sanchez is accused of being an accomplice.
Hudnall and Lozano reportedly were dating, although her family didn't know him and Hosley couldn't confirm that.
Hosley said Castillo was known to them for years.
The family is "just hoping now that the justice system does its job," Hosley said.
"No one deserves what the disgusting excuse for humans did to her, and all people involved need to be locked up ... never to be free to do this to anyone again," Hosley said.
Hudnall had worked as a certified nursing assistant and held other jobs over the years. She was a Christian who often reached out to Hosley about faith and offered to send up prayers.
Hudnall adored her children, and her social media accounts largely were dedicated to photos and videos with them, Hosley said. The 40-year-old was the spitting image of her mother, Daveitta, and she was loved and protected by her older brother, Steve.
"She knew if she called big brother, he would be there," Hosley said.
Her family and other loved ones are reeling and hurting in the wake of her death.
"She has many family members (who are torn) up by this. Many friends that thought of her like family. She had many extra sisters and brothers," Hosley said. "She loved being with family, she enjoyed laughing and having fun. And her being gone has placed a hole in many people's hearts. Some holes so deep I can't imagine."