Former Miss USA Chelsea Cooley is speaking out about the shocking murder of her friend, former Miss Venezuela and soap opera star, Monica Spear.
INSIDE EDITION's Diane McInerney asked, "When you heard that Monica was gone, how did you react?"
Cooley said, "I just burst into tears. I couldn't believe what I was reading. I couldn't believe that she was gone. I couldn’t believe that she died in the way that she did.”
Cooley competed against Spear in the Miss Universe contest in 2005 and they became close friends.
“We became instant best friends. She was just the light of the room and she was just the kind of person that you wanted to be friends with because she was such a caring and kind spirit,” said Cooley.
Spear was brutally murdered by bandits while on vacation in her native Venezuela along with her ex-husband. Their five-year-old daughter, Maya, was shot in the leg.
In disbelief Cooley said, “When you see that there is a child in the car...and you still do a senseless act of violence.”
Spear was one of the leading contenders for the Miss Universe crown until she was asked a question about problems facing Venezuela. She said, “My country, Venezuela, is having a hard time right now, politically and economically. The cause is that we are too into ourselves.”
But she stumbled, perhaps nervous that her answer might anger tyrant Hugo Chavez who was then in power. She ended the contest as fourth runner-up.
She managed to joke with her friend about the outcome.
Cooley said, “She looks at me and she goes, ‘Great! Now I have to get a job', because, obviously she didn't win the pageant! That was Monica, you know!”
Cooley has now started a scholarship fund for Spear’s orphaned daughter on the website FundAnything.com. Miss Universe pageant owner Donald Trump was among the first to make a substantial donation.
Twenty-nine-year-old Spear’s murder has caused uproar in Venezuela. Seven people are in custody. Authorities say Spear’s stolen camera was found on one of the suspects. Spear’s ex had used it to take a video of her on horseback just six hours before they were ambushed.
Cooley said, “I just hope that Maya grows up knowing not just how wonderful her parents were, how wonderful her mother was, but how much her mother really loved her.”