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Vigil held to remember WVU student found dead in Australia

About 100 people gathered at Rumsey Monument Park to pay tribute to Emily Spickler

August 18, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER |

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Holding candles in paper cups, about 100 people gathered at Rumsey Monument Park in Shepherdstown, W.Va. Thursday to remember the late Emily Spickler with a vigil.

Tissue boxes lined a wall at the park, and those who gathered wore somber expressions.

The 2009 Jefferson High School graduate was found dead Monday in her dormitory residence at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba, Australia, just three days before what would have been her 20th birthday.

An aspiring fashion journalist, Spickler was studying abroad  while she worked toward her degree from West Virginia University, where she was a journalism major.

A family member asked media at the park covering the vigil to allow them to remember Spickler in private on her birthday.

"We're asking them to please not take any pictures, not publicize this," said Nancy Eaves, Spickler's maternal grandmother. "This is a private gathering for her friends and her family to honor her on her birthday, and we would appreciate it if no media gets out on it.

"It's time to start closure, for us to start closure," she said. "Jill and Jeff (Spickler, Emily's parents) have started closure by going to Australia to bring their daughter back and there's been enough media.

"And we appreciate what the media has done previous, to make people aware that she was, of what had happened," she said. "But no more media, OK?"

The Herald-Mail honored the request not to cover the vigil any further.

Meanwhile, a community Facebook page remembering Spickler continued to grow Thursday, as people wished her a happy birthday.

"Gone too soon," Spickler's mother Jill Spickler said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Authorities said Wednesday that an autopsy determined that Spickler died from natural causes.

She traveled to Australia last month for what was to be a one-year student exchange, according to her mother and WVU.

"We remain incredibly proud of her as a person and her achievements and accomplishments," Jill Spickler said Wednesday.

She said her daughter would want to be remembered for "her spirit and her love."

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