Friends and family are perplexed and heartbroken after a 46-year-old mother was found dead on Wednesday morning after fleeing Florida last week and going on the run with her teenage daughter.
According to the St. Petersburg Police, Angela Jolley was in Omaha, Nebraska, when she suffered a “medical episode, was transported to the hospital, and died.”
You’ll get the latest updates on this topic in your browser notifications.
Her 19-year-old daughter, Alexis Jolley, was with her and called 911.
“It’s heart-wrenching,” says Brandi Kurtz, who is Alexis’ boss at the Winn-Dixie supermarket in Madeira Beach, Florida. “It doesn’t make sense.”
She adds: “They were so close and the sweetest people you could ever meet.”
The tragic ending leaves more questions than answers after the two were first reported missing on July 23, when Angela failed to show up to work at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System in Seminole.
The two packed up their car with their two dogs, left their phones and other electronic devices at home and made a bank withdrawal at a credit union, according to a police report.
RELATED: ‘Beautiful, Loving’ Mother And 2-Year-Old Baby Go Missing in Texas as Fiancé Pleads for Safe Return
Later that morning, Angela’s car was spotted in Valdosta, Georgia, and then entered Columbus, Mississippi, a few hours later. The car wasn’t seen again until July 24 driving south of Memphis, Tennessee.
On Wednesday, July 28, the women were at a restaurant or gas station, police say, when Angela went inside to use the restroom. When she didn’t emerge, Alexis went to check on her and found her in need of medical assistance.
Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE’s free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.
According to Desiree Cook (Alexis’s half-sister), this was the last thing anyone expected to happen.
“It’s really just a shock,” says Cook, 28. “They had a trip planned for Maine and were supposed to leave yesterday. Of course they didn’t show up at the airport because they were already … in Nebraska.”
She added: “None of Angela’s close friends knew. Everyone is saying that they had no idea and saying to me ‘It’s so not like her.’”
Kurtz, the customer service manager at Winn-Dixie, also didn’t see this coming. In fact, she says she talked to Alexis, a cashier at the store, just two days before they left town, and Alexis didn’t mention anything unusual.
The mother and daughter “were so close,” Kurtz says. “It was a life journey for the both of them.”
On Alexis’ first day at the Winn-Dixie, Kurtz remembers, a rude customer upset her.
“I told her to smile through it, and not to let anyone take away her sunshine,” she says. “Her mom was there and walked up to me. I had never met her and she spun me around, gave me a hug and said, ‘This is the greatest advice anyone could ever give.’”
According to Cook, Angela and Alexis enjoyed traveling together and volunteering in their community.
“I spoke with the pastor on Saturday and all he could do was brag on Angie and brag on Alexis about how they would come and help,” she says. “They served homeless people dinner and Angie would spend her own money making food for people.”
While the “medical episode” Angela experienced in Omaha has not been revealed, she did have gall bladder surgery recently, according to Cook.
“I don’t necessarily think they were running away from anything or anyone,” she says. “They were going to take the trip to Maine to possibly look for land or homes that they could eventually move to.”
Angela’s stepfather, who lived with them, was going to join them.
“As far as I know,” says Cook, “[Alexis is] still in Nebraska,” she adds. “We’re left in the dark, which I understand; it’s just hard.”