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Murder victim didn't deserve violent death, friends say

Friends say Christopher Corey and his dog Beef went everywhere together. True to his name, the black Italian Mastiff weighed in at more than 100 pounds. In Facebook photos, he’s seen sporting a spiked collar.

But Corey’s friends said both he and his dog were gentle giants.

“(Beefy) would go and walk up to everyone and their mom and wag and sniff. The dog would never bite or attack,” Corey’s former girlfriend Alexis Curry said, adding that Corey didn’t have any enemies she knew of.

“He was a teddy bear,” she said.

Corey, Beef and a second dog named Tara died after a Naples Manor shooting early Monday morning. Collier deputies found Corey face down in a pool of blood with holes in his shirt shortly after 3 a.m. in his duplex at 5362 Holland Street, according to reports.

Corey’s family is having Beef cremated and buried with their son, according to Domestic Animal Services. Beef was shot in the shoulder and the bullet exited his body. He was injured after the shooting, but Corey’s family had the dog euthanized, reports show. Tara, who had just given birth to a litter of puppies found at the home, was dead at the scene. The puppies are in the care of a relative, reports show.

Corey’s death marks the county’s first homicide this year. For loved ones, it marks a great loss.

“He was the love of my life, and I was the love of his,” said Curry, 20, of North Naples. “We had our arguments and our differences. It was unfortunate that we could never come to an understanding with each other.”

Curry and Corey met about six years ago while he was stationed at a military base in South Carolina. They dated on and off for three and a half years during which Corey would drive to Florida every few months to see Curry for a weekend.

The couple were living together last year when Corey was arrested for growing marijuana in an apartment in the Bermuda Island complex in North Naples. Curry was not arrested and maintains she did not know about the $39,000 in marijuana plants Corey and their roommate, Christina Coconate, were growing in a closet and bedroom.

Corey pleaded no contest to charges of manufacturing and paraphernalia as part of a plea deal in which the judge withheld an adjudication of guilt. He was sentenced to a year of house arrest and two years of probation. This time last year, he violated probation and was arrested for driving with a suspended license.

“Every single time something would happen, he’d freak out and run and get scared and just do something terrible,” Curry said.

Curry said she believes Corey was silently suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after his deployment overseas.

“It’s just terrible that he just couldn’t come out and say he needed help,” she said. “I wish he could have came out and just did what he needed to do to be on the right side of living and be happy and healthy.”

Medically discharged from the Marines after a gunshot wound to his knee, Corey struggled to find work, friends said. He did desk work for the Marines for a time, friends said, before going to work for his dad doing construction. Curry said he received a monthly stipend from the Marines for his injury, which meant he always had money. Sometimes, friends said, he bragged about that, posting Facebook photos of himself standing over piles of cash.

“He flaunts his money too much,” said John Debellis, of Fort Lauderdale.

Debellis said he met Corey at the beach a few years ago. The men shared drinks and kept in touch.

When he learned Corey had been killed, Debellis said he suspected some kind of personal feud, given that Corey’s dogs were also shot.

“Someone must have had a personal hate for him,” Debellis said.

Another friend of Corey’s, Amy Pedigo, 30, of Lehigh Acres, agreed.

“I think if they knew how much that dog meant to him, then that was a spitting on his grave kind of thing,” she said.

Pedigo described Corey as a caring person who was there for her when she lost her boyfriend to a brain aneurysm. After his death, Corey designed a tattoo for Pedigo to have etched onto her back. She said now she regrets not having the tattoo done.

“He expressed himself through artwork, that’s how he handled things,” Pedigo said, adding that Corey designed many of his own tattoos.

On Tuesday, Pedigo visited Corey’s home and left a handwritten note on his door where others had left their condolences. “I just cannot believe this is happening right now,” she said. “You don’t wish this upon anybody. What kind of a coward shoots a man and then shoots his dogs?”

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