Westborough resident Robert Marriott asked the nearly 500 people in attendance at a vigil Thursday at the University of New Hampshire to remember his daughter Lizzi by giving their parents "a giant hug" and being sure to "tell them how much you love them."
Marriott said his daughter "was a great hugger" who often ran across with her arms extended to give someone the next big embrace. Her love for marine biology and sea creatures such as moon snails, horseshoe crabs and star fish was just as great, and it was her desire to learn about those things and share her knowledge with others that made her want to study at UNH, he said.
Robert Marriott also asked the students to make friends on campus because his daughter loved making new friends. He asked them to love one another and look out for one another.
This message delivered by the family of the UNH student who was murdered in Dover, N.H. a week ago was the central theme of the vigil and remembrance ceremony held in front of Thompson Hall.
A recording of Lizzi singing played during the vigil.
Marriott's message resonated with Scott Chesney, director of residential life at UNH. He said he spoke with Robert Marriott a few days ago and Marriott asked Chesney to go to his daughter, Gabby, and hug her as hard as he could and "tell her how important she is to you.
"It was the best hug I ever had," said Chesney. "If you're a mom or a dad, you do what I did today and you will love it and you will thank Bob for it."
Some of Lizzi Marriott's friends from where she grew up in Westborough also addressed the crowd.
Carly Barnes of Westborough said she grew up with Lizzi. "She was the kindest, most vibrant person I've ever had the pleasure to meet," she said.
Her mom, Lisa Barnes, urged everyone to keep praying for Lizzi's family and pray that her body is found so "that we can find her and bring her home."
Ryan Tyler, 19, of Westborough, said he went to high school with Lizzi and recalled how she helped him get through his sophomore math class. He said he also attended the vigil held in Westborough last weekend and felt that she was there with those who gathered as much as she was there with them at UNH on Thursday.
Dylan Palmer, the UNH student body president, said he didn't know Lizzi, but she will always be remembered as a Wildcat. He asked his classmates to "do what she could not do at UNH."
UNH faculty and staff members said that Lizzi Marriott's death is one of the hardest student deaths they have experienced.
David Cross, the director of the UNH Counseling Center, said based on the conversations he's had with Lizzi's classmates, "she made a difference in the short time she was here."
UNH President Mark Huddleston said "Lizzi's loss is heartbreaking for our community."
He read a letter that Lizzi Marriott wrote when she transferred to UNH that expressed her desire to study marine biology and share her knowledge with others.
"I know that I am helping people learn and making the world better," she wrote.
Huddleston also said that UNH will offer grief counseling to anyone who needs it.
The Rev. Larry Brickner-Wood described Lizzi Marriott as "a light bringer" who could turn heartache into hope and sadness into joy. He said her light and spirit continue to shine bright.
Lizzi Marriott, 19, attended UNH for six weeks after transferring from Manchester Community College, and had planned to move into one of the school's dormitories in the spring, according to the Rev. Brickner-Wood.
According to New Hampshire authorities, Lizzi Marriott attended a night class on Oct. 9 before she went to visit a friend in Dover. Authorities say that Seth Mazzaglia, 29, of Dover strangled and/or suffocated her inside of his Sawyer Mill apartment. Based on information they received, the Coast Guard and New Hampshire Marine Patrol have been searching the waters around Peirce Island in Portsmouth to recover her body.
Mazzaglia was charged with second degree murder and is being held at the Strafford County Jail in Dover without bail. He is scheduled to return to Dover District Court for a probable cause hearing on Oct. 29 at 10 a.m.