BERWICK — When Brittany Tibbetts first started to date Cullen Mutrie, her friends were glad for her.

Mutrie was training to be a firefighter, drove a nice car and owned his own home. In the beginning he seemed perfect for the 26-year-old cosmetologist, said her friend and colleague, Kristen Beevers of Portsmouth, N.H.

But what friends and family described as an on-again, off-again relationship ended Thursday when Tibbetts was shot to death, after a standoff at Mutrie’s home that left the popular police chief of Greenland, N.H., dead and four other police officers wounded.

Authorities announced Saturday that Tibbetts and Mutrie, whose bodies were found early Friday by a police robot equipped with a video camera, had both been shot in the head. They said the deaths were ruled a murder-suicide.

Autopsy results released Saturday indicated that Mutrie killed the Berwick native, then shot himself. Mutrie also had a bullet graze wound to his arm.

Tibbetts’ parents said they want their daughter to be remembered not for how she died but for how she lived.

“She was a caring person, but not for her own good,” said Donna Tibbetts, her mother.

Family and friends described Tibbetts, a former Noble High School softball star, as a beautiful and helpful person and a gifted athlete, who had a blind side when it came to Mutrie.

“She was just searching for someone to love,” said Beevers.

Donna Tibbetts said she and her husband, Lenny, heard about the shooting Thursday from a friend and rushed to the scene.

She said her daughter had had an on-again, off-again relationship with the 6-foot-2, 260-pound Mutrie, whom she dated for about a year.

She said her daughter, who described her status as single on Facebook, had broken off the relationship weeks before, but had gone back to him in the end.  

“He was having problems. That was the kind of person she was,” said Tibbetts.

Tibbetts said she and her husband had met Mutrie only a few times and did not encourage the relationship.

“He was nice enough to us,” she said. “We might have had some concerns, but we just basically thought that Brittany was a big girl and it had to be left up to her. It was her choice.”

The Tibbettses, who have another daughter, Lindsay, 28, were sequestered in a room in a local school while events at the shootout continued to unfold at Mutrie’s 517 Post Road home in Greenland. They repeatedly tried to reach Brittany Tibbetts by cellphone, but she didn’t answer.

They were informed of their younger daughter’s death about 4:30 a.m. Friday.

On Saturday, as she held her daughter’s miniature Doberman pinscher, Diesel, on a leash, Donna Tibbetts said Brittany was a loving person whose family meant everything to her.

She drove snowmobiles and Jet Skis. She worked as a hairdresser at the Hair Excitement salon at the Fox Run Mall in Newington, N.H., but left recently to concentrate on opening her own salon. She had picked out a location in Greenland, which fell through at the last minute because of an inadequate septic system.

Tibbetts grew up in a farming family whose roots date back to the earliest settlers in Berwick.

She was a star softball pitcher, and was named the 2004 Maine Gatorade Player of the Year. After high school, at her parents’ urging, she agreed to try attending the University of Maine. But she dropped out after a year.

“It just wasn’t her cup of tea,” said her father.

But she was very interested and skilled at cosmetology, her father said.

She was sought after by clients, especially as a makeup stylist, said Beevers.

“She was unbelievably talented,” said Beevers.

Many of her friends distanced themselves after she started dating Mutrie, who was known in his neighborhood for playing loud music and working on noisy motorcycles late at night. People were afraid of him, Beevers said. After an arrest on domestic assault charges, officers entered his home to confiscate any guns and found anabolic steroids.

Beevers said Mutrie abused her friend and robbed her of her independence.

“He led her down a very dark, dark path. It had gotten to the point where she lost her sense of self-esteem,” said Beevers.

Mutrie was the target of the final drug bust that Greenland’s slain police chief, Michael Maloney, was planning before he retired after more than a quarter-century in law enforcement.

Trying to rid a neighborhood of its menace just days before retirement proved to be the 48-year-old chief’s final act.

“He died trying to make our community safer,” said John Penacho, chairman of the town’s Board of Selectmen.

Maloney was killed by a gunshot wound to the head. His death was ruled a homicide, according to Jane Young, associate attorney general. Two of the wounded officers were treated for gunshot wounds and released, and the other two were hospitalized with gunshot wounds to the chest.

Maloney and the four other officers, all detectives from other departments, were part of a drug task force run by the state attorney general’s office. They arrived at Mutrie’s house at 6 p.m. Thursday, search warrant in hand. Mutrie was ready, authorities said, opening fire as police tried to gain entry.

Meanwhile, the Greenland Police Department said Saturday a wake for Maloney will be held Wednesday.

The wake will be at Remick and Gendron Funeral Home in Hampton. Law enforcement officers will walk through from 1 to 3 p.m. and patches from each department attending will be presented to Maloney’s family. The public will be allowed in from 5 to 9 p.m.

 A memorial service will be held Thursday at noon at the Winnacunnet High School athletic field in Hampton.

Tibbetts’ friends, family and co-workers are planning a candlelight vigil to remember their friend at 7 p.m. today at the Nubble Cove Lighthouse in York.

“It was a place she loved and went to think,” said Beevers.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at: [email protected]