FRANKLIN (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- Twenty-eight-year-old Maddilyn Burgess was found murdered in the trunk of her boyfriend's car last month in Gardiner. Now, her family is doing what they can to keep her memory alive while helping other victims of domestic abuse through a GoFundMe page.
"It's hard to grasp that my sister is no longer here," said Burgess' sister McKenzie Burgess, holding back tears. "Part of me feels like it's not even real, that this is just horrible nightmare."
Madilynn is described as a bright and vibrant young woman who loved her family and making others smile. Burgess and her family were shocked by what happened, but say they were always worried that day would come.
"The last time she saw my mom she said 'if I go back, he's going to kill me,'" Burgess said. "But she couldn't stay away, he had too much of a hold on her, she was trapped."
Burgess is referring to her sister's boyfriend, 34-year-old Gyrth Rutan of Sturbridge, Massachusetts. Burgess says her sister confided in her about the abuse but Madilynn was never strong enough to leave.
"She didn't have a place she felt she could go and be safe and that's not right," Burgess said.
Which is why McKenzie and her family are working towards creating the 'Maddy Rose Foundation' -- a non-profit that would support victims of domestic violence. Their goal is to raise enough money to create a safe house in Massachusetts and a closet full of essentials here in Maine.
It would provide victims of domestic abuse with a safe place to sleep and shower as well as provide them with things like food and toiletries.
"It is OK to speak up and say I'm scared I need help I am in fear of my life," Burgess said. "We want to make sure that people know that they have a safe place that they can go."
McKenzie says its a big project -- but luckily she has people like her mother-in-law, Patty Smith, to help get it started.
"Helping her to help other people I think will be a lot of really great self-therapy for her," Smith said.
Though the painful hand her family has been dealt is not ideal, McKenzie says they are finding peace by helping others.
"It's sad, it's a tragedy and I don't want another family to go through with mine did," Burgess said. "If we can save one person then my sister's death won't be in vain."
Burgess also wanted to thank the police officers who responded to the scene. She says if it weren't for them pulling him over, her family may never have known what happened to Maddilyn.