MOSCOW, Idaho -- As the sun set over Moscow Thursday and shadows filled its central square, friends of Katy Benoit gathered in the twilight to remember a young woman who brought a glow to their hearts.
The candlelight vigil to honor the slain University of Idaho graduate student drew about 300 people, including faculty members and others from the UI community still in a state of shock over the violence that struck earlier this week.
"I don't know many people who didn't just grow close with her," friend and fellow psychology student Lydia Maylott, 26, said of Benoit's magnetic personality.
Maylott worked with Benoit in the UI psychology lab, where they gradually became friends.
About 80 of Benoit's Alpha Gamma Delta sorority sisters made up a large portion of the gathering, and many of them described a strong, outgoing woman who brought out the strength in others.
"She filled her friends with confidence," said one member.
Others described her tendency to randomly break out in dance, and even give others the courage to hit the dance floor with some new moves.
Benoit, 22, was shot several times Monday night by Ernesto Bustamante, a former UI psychology professor who dated Benoit until March. Bustamante killed himself in a Moscow hotel room early Tuesday morning.
Benoit filed a complaint with the university in June after Bustamante pointed a gun at her on several occasions, and Bustamante was subsequently fired or forced to resign, according to court records.
But few in attendance at Thursday's vigil could have foreseen what Bustamante would eventually do, Maylott said.
"Nobody knew what was going on."
She said much of the conversation on campus has revolved around what could have been done to prevent the tragedy. Maylott, a senior from Antioch, Calif., said she believed law enforcement should have been involved once the relationship turned violent and the university was notified.
"Absolutely, the university should have gone to the police," Maylott said, adding she is not surprised by the UI's decision to not release information about the complaints and investigations around Bustamante. "They're doing what any university would do, or any large corporation would do."
She also said she wished Benoit herself had told police about the assaults.
Maylott helped organize the vigil, and she urged the crowd to be positive in their recollections of Benoit.
"This is not a mourning vigil, this is a celebration," she said, remembering Benoit's happiness and "goofiness," and "that small little devious smile she had that made you wonder 'What is she thinking?' "
Benoit's family in Boise announced Thursday there will be a memorial service at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Boise High School. UI Dean of Students Bruce Pitman, who attended the vigil, said Benoit's parents will travel to Moscow next week for the university's formal memorial.
The details of that service should be announced today, Pitman said. It will involve music in some significant way, since Benoit was an accomplished cellist, he said.
(c)2011 the Lewiston Tribune (Lewiston, Idaho)
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