Just a day after search crews recovered her body, well over a hundred people gathered for a candlelight vigil to remember Whitney Heichel outside the Starbucks where she worked as a barista.
The store on Northeast Burnside closed early for the vigil which started at 6 p.m. Saturday and lasted for more than two hours.
The show of support brought together Heichel's family, friends, co-workers, and even complete strangers were moved by her story.
"We just wanted to be here for each other and for Whitney to remember all the good times with her," said Keri Kestermon, who attended high school with Heichel.
A light rain fell as the vigil began and the crowd huddled under tents set up in the parking lot.
They sang Amazing Grace as Heichel's co-workers passed out candles and shared memories of the well-liked barista.
Heichel left her apartment to go to work Tuesday morning but she never made it.
Jonathan Holt, who lived in the same apartment complex as Heichel, is charged with killing the 21-year-old Gresham woman.
Some people who attended Saturday's vigil had never met Heichel, but were so moved by the tragedy that they wanted to show up and support her family.
"I pray to God that she's in a better place and I don't understand why people do the things they do," said Elizabeth Guardiola.
Others in attendance were Starbucks customers, who remember Heichel as their friendly neighborhood barista who would serve them coffee every morning.
Heichel's husband Clint, along with the rest of the family, have requested privacy while they grieve.
Former classmates said coming together at the vigil helps them cope with the loss.
"I think everyone is in shock about the whole thing," said Kestermon. "But it's really nice to see all these people here to support Whitney and her family."
Gresham police said Holt is expected to be arraigned for aggravated murder in Clackamas County on Monday.
Investigators have not revealed how Heichel died.
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