Kellene Fallon, 44, who was known as Kelly and married to Tam Hill from Meadowbank, was one of five people shot and killed following a botched robbery inside Fero’s Bar and Grill on Colorado Boulevard in Denver at 1.30am on October 17.
The grandmother of two – who had a 23-year-old son from a previous relationship – returned to her native America in February due to problems with her visa, but a meeting was due to take place with immigration officials to resolve the issue early next month.
Tam, 44, from Meadowbank, has instead been left to arrange a funeral rather than a homecoming party.
He said: “I’m heartbroken over it and really can’t believe what has happened. I spoke with her on the phone that day at 6.30pm and we talked about the date for her final settlement visa and how we would see each other again soon.
“Like always, she was full of life and very bubbly. She said that she had been listening to the presidential debate and that she liked Obama. A few hours later I tried calling her again but got no reply. It was then that I saw a Facebook post from our friend Tom that asked anyone who had seen her to get in touch ASAP.
“Straight away I rang her best friend and housemate, Karis and it was she who broke the news to me. She was such a beauty and so kind.”
Three men – brothers Lynell Jonathan Hill, 24, and Joseph Nathanael Hill, 27, along with Dexter Lewis Jr, 22 – have been charged with first-degree murder, felony murder, robbery and arson. It’s alleged the trio had attempted to set the bar on fire to destroy the evidence.
The other victims included Daria M Pohl, 21, Tereasa Beesley, 45, and Ross Richter, 29, plus bar owner, Young Fero, 63, who was a friend of Kelly.
Originally from California, Kelly married Tam in 2009 and the couple moved to the Capital and set up home in Meadowbank – she worked the Chanel counter for Boots in the Gyle and he has worked at first the Forth Bridge and now Torness Nuclear Power Station. Tragically, the popular “free spirit” had been due to celebrate her 45th birthday yesterday and so in tribute to her life and memory, 20 of her former friends from Boots last night headed to Arthur’s Seat and released more than 30 Chinese lanterns.
Tam, who has since flown out to the US to bury his wife, said of the heartfelt gesture: “It’s a really nice touch and a great way to honour her. She would have loved that.”
Speaking through tears, Tam told how he met Kelly while on holiday in Las Vegas four years ago and how they had big plans for the future. He said: “We met in the Carnaval Bar and Grill just off The Strip, it was November 1, 2008, I never will forget that date.
“Kelly’s favourite band, Wonderboogie, were playing that night, she loved to dance and would dance all night if she could. She left for Denver the next day but 24 hours later she had hopped back on a plane to come and see me again. She was that kind of person.
“She always said she loved my eyes and that my accent was the sexiest accent ever but she was the looker, a real beauty. She had a real sparkle to her.”
Miriam Lang, who helped to organise the lantern lighting, said: “She was the typical loud American, really in your face, you couldn’t miss her. But she was also very bubbly and friendly.
“It is so sad. We’ve been told that her favourite spot in Edinburgh was the old ruined castle at St Margaret’s Loch so that is where we chose to release the lanterns.”
A memorial fund has now been set up in an effort to pay for her £4000 funeral costs.
Friend Karis Duran-Holman said: “Kelly was a precious bundle of joy to her family and son David Harring. She loved to travel and experence new adventures and made several trips to Europe and Hawalli and enjoyed Las Vegas.
“She married Tam and moved to Edinburgh in 2009 and was so excited to work for Boots in the Gyle. Kelly had an extraordinary enthusiasm for life and was an excellent customer service and sales rep. Once terms were set out for a work-related sales contest she was unbeatable.
“I will miss her dearly but she really did live life to the fullest.”
The family of Kelly recently released this statement in the US about the tragic loss of their beloved daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, aunt and cousin: “We are speechless in our expression of sadness and disbelief at the heinous acts.
“Her enthusiasm for life extended to all that knew her and her warm demeanor caused people to smile. She welcomed everyone with warmth. She and her beautiful spirit will be sorely missed.”