"This light on the table represents the light of God, and the light that shines in the darkness and the light that is Lizzi Marriott," pastor John Wesley Taylor told the crowd of hundreds that gathered at Bay State Commons Saturday night.
On Saturday morning, dozens of community members had gathered at this same place to figure out ways to expand the search for Elizabeth "Lizzi" Marriott. By evening, Bay State Commons had become the meeting place to mourn her loss.
Marriott, who attended UNH, was last heard from on Tuesday evening, when she texted a friend. By Thursday, she was reported missing and police departments focused an extensive search on Pierce Island in Portsmouth, NH. On Saturday, authorities confirmed that a Dover, NH, man had confessed to her murder.
Friends, neighbors and family (including Marriott's parents) gathered at the vigil for support, enouragement and to begin what is sure to be a long and painful grieving process.
Through tears, Marriot's father, Bob, thanked everyone for coming, and spoke of his daughter. "I want to thank everyone for so many things," he said, "and especially helping that together we created an angel. She is now home in Heaven."
Classmates who graduated with Marriott shared shock and disbelief over the news. Many said they found out through Facebook posts or texts.
"I just thought maybe she was at a party at a friend's house," said friend Damien Hughs.
"Especially somebody like her ... you just don't expect this. She was such a nice person," added Michael Graham, who spent a lot of time with Marriott in high school.
Jillian Bleakney, who said Marriott was voted their prom queen, added, "She was just nice to everyone. I don't think anybody would say anything bad about her."
Many Westborough residents said that they came out to the vigil to support the family, even if they did not know them personally.
"I didn't know Lizzi, but I had come this morning to help with the search that was canceled," said Donna Murray of Westborough. "You just have to, as a mom myself ... this is just so senseless and tragic."
Kim Jones remembers Marriott as her "very first friend in fourth grade." Moving to a new school and scared, she said Marriott sat with her on the bus, and "we sat together every day that year ... Nothing like this ever happens. It hasn't really even hit me yet."
"She was just always so nice and quiet, but bubbly," said Kasey Murphy, who graduated with Marriott. "Just always smiling and bubbly."
Musicians performed "Amazing Grace" and "On Eagles Wings," asking mourners to sing along. A book was also passed around, and people were urged to share their memories of Marriott and words of encouragement to the family.
Mindy Murch, a substitute teacher in the Westborough school system, attended the vigil with her dog, Toby.
"My son goes to the high school," she said. "I was subbing and had gotten a message about what happened from the principal. I am new to this town, and I love this town. You just have a hard time believing this will happen to someone you know. It's inconceivable. I have a son who is going to college next year, and it's scary."