VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (WVEC) – Life-long friends describe her as energetic and “full of life”, but now they want answers into why Irene McLean, 96, was found in horrific condition under family care before she died.

“We just want to know what happened,” said Steven Kovacs.

Kovacs lives in the Bay Area of California, where he said McLean spent most of her life. She later moved to Virginia Beach with family because of declining health, Kovacs said.

Wednesday, he spoke with 13News Now over skype to further explain the impact his decades-old friend had on others.

"She was an avid swimmer...she swam every single day. She did fantastic workouts every single day. She could do the splits when she was in her late 80's," Kovacs laughed. “She was sweet and kind to everyone.”

It wasn’t until Kovacs saw a recent article by 13News Now that got him concerned.

Last year, Adult Protective Services got involved with McLean’s well-being.

According to court documents, she was found at a relative’s Virginia Beach home with skin tears “all over” her extremities, soiled clothes, feces under her “long, unkempt” fingernails and exposed tendons.

McLean was removed, but later died.

Kovacs said friends didn’t know about her disturbing condition because they never got through to her family over four years and eventually gave up.

"We always asked about her, we always wanted to talk to her,” Kovacs said. “They didn't let us talk to her. They had the power of attorney. They were her designated heirs, so there was only so much we could do."

Kovacs explained that the only contact he had with family was when he was paying back a loan.

He said McLean has at least a half a dozen friends in the Bay Area and they all desperately want to know what happened to their loved one.

Virginia Beach police said they are investigating the incident, waiting on a cause of death from the medical examiner.

Authorities are looking into alleged neglect, occurring over more than three months, court documents said.

Friends plan to meet in the coming days in remembrance of McLean.