As the sun began to set, members of the crowd passed candles around, lighting each other’s with their own. A young woman stood on a bench and began to speak about her close friend.
“This is for everyone to get together and remember Katy,” said Lydia Maylott, a UI senior psychology major. “To remember the light that she brought, remember the happiness that she brought, remember the goofiness that she brought; that goofy smile and that cute little laugh she had, that sweet little devious smile that sometimes made you wonder ‘what is she thinking,’ and I’m sure you guys all remember that.”
Maylott said candles were being lit across the planet, with the Facebook event for the vigil gathering support from people various places, including New Zealand, Alaska and England.
“She was just a light,” she said later to The Daily Evergreen. “And very sweet, very understanding. I liked to call her the little hippy child. It just goes to show how many lives she touched that she could span the globe. The president can’t do that. One little girl in Moscow was able to span the globe and spread her light.”
Despite the tears, giggles could be heard from the crowd as Maylott spoke of Benoit’s personality.
After Maylott finished speaking, Christine Wall, executive director of Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, stood to share a statement from Benoit’s family.
“It’s comforting to know that your hearts are with them,” she read. “Katy loved Moscow, she loved her friends and she loved her studies.”
Wall said there have been 19 deaths in Idaho due to domestic violence since January.
Members of Benoit’s sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, circled in the courtyard. Heads were bowed all around, candles in every hand and some spoke of their memories of their lost sister.
Benoit loved to dance, said one. She instilled confidence in others, said another. She was spontaneous, goal oriented and told wild stories, said other members of the sorority. The sniffles and occasional cries from the group were interrupted by laughter as memories of their sister were shared by the circle.
Outside the circle, Garrett Lamm, a UI senior international studies major and lifelong friend of Benoit spoke.
”One of my earliest memories in childhood was standing in line in kindergarten and I was scared. I was five, and there was this girl in front of me and she had the goofiest laugh,” Lamm said. “It was the same laugh I grew up with and went to high school with.”
He smiled as he recalled his friend, telling a story about jumping in the pool with her when they were only third graders.
“On her graduation day last December, she was laughing that same laugh,” he said. “…I’ll always remember that laugh that she carried with her.”