"They were like two peas in a pod," says friend Manny Hodak of Savvas and Amy Savopoulos, who were killed with their son, Philip

By Steve Helling
Updated May 27, 2015 12:00 PM
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Credit: Courtesy Facebook

He was in a fraternity. She was in a sorority. Sparks flew, and the attractive young co-eds at the University of Maryland soon became a couple.

The decades-long love story of Savvas and Amy Savopoulos looked like it would become a case of happily ever after, until it was cut short when they – along with their son Philip and their housekeeper Veralicia Figueroa – were bound, tortured and murdered in their multimillion-dollar Washington, D.C., mansion on May 14.

Friends who are grieving say their relationship was filled with happiness from the beginning.

“From the first time they started going out, they were like peanut butter and jelly,” Amy’s sorority sister, Terri Jarboe-Farri, tells PEOPLE. “I knew she was going to marry him.”

After college, the couple wed at St. Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral in a large ceremony. “They had the typical big fat Greek wedding,” says Jarboe-Farri. “It was beautiful and wonderful. His family was very nice and welcoming to everybody. They did the Greek dancing in the big circle. It was a big, nice event.”

The couple enjoyed more than two decades of marital bliss.

“They were always together and I never saw any problems,” says Manny Hodak, a fraternity brother of Savvas who later worked with him at American Iron Works. “It was a wonderful relationship. Not even raising their voices. I know he loved her dearly. They got along like two peas in a pod.”

Together, Savvas and Amy Savopoulos had three children: Abigail, 19, Katerina, 16, and Philip, 10. According to several friends, the family was close-knit.

“Savvas was very involved with the kids,” says Hodak. “Very hands-on. He lived for his kids. The girls are very sweet and fun-loving. Philip was a very bright kid. He had a wonderful smile.”

Adds family friend Jami Fireman: “They were both driven by their kids and their family unit. It was a top priority for them. They were a big part of the community and always willing to help.”

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Now, friends are left to mourn the shattered family: the gregarious patriarch who was quick with a joke and a smile, the mom who loved baking and playing board games with her children, and the smiling boy who was into go-kart racing.

“I can’t stop thinking about this family and what those last moments must have been like,” says Fireman. “The Savopoulos family will forever be with each of us who knew and admired them.”

For more on the horrifying murders, including information on the man arrested for the crime, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday.

Reporting by CHRISTINE PELISEK and SUSAN KEATING

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