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"So close for so many years'

Carla Marie McKishnie and Eleanor Anne Grace met in 1977 when McKishnie's family moved into the same neighborhood as Grace's. For 14 years, they had been best friends. It didn't matter that McKishnie was two years older than Grace or that McKishnie went to high school before her and then on to the University of Florida.

"In junior high and high school, Carla had friends her own age, but she always had Anne, too," McKishnie's father, Murray McKishnie, said Sunday.

Grace was 6 and McKishnie 8 when the two first met. When Grace was accepted to UF after her freshman year at another college, she and McKishnie were overjoyed, Murray McKishnie said.

"They had always planned on going there and being roommates," he said. "They were just thrilled. . . . The girls were so close for so many years. That's why the pain is so great."

McKishnie described his daughter as outgoing, independent and focused on her goal: to be an elementary school teacher.

"She was a doer," her father said. "When her brother got certified for scuba, she did, too. And it didn't matter that she was the only girl in the class. . . . There really wasn't anything she wouldn't try and do."

Carla McKishnie had been expected to receive her master's degree in education in the spring of 1992. She had been tutoring children in reading in Gainesville and had wanted to become a fourth- or fifth-grade teacher _ perhaps a special education teacher _ in the Sarasota area, her father said.

McKishnie was relieved that an arrest was made Sunday but declined to speculate on the motive in the killings. He said both women were careful, especially after the slayings of five students in Gainesville last August. "That's what was so alarming to us," he said. "As careful as they were that this could happen."