LEOMINSTER — Roughly 70 people gathered for a vigil at Monument Square in Leominster Wednesday night to remember Vanessa Marcotte, a 27-year-old Leominster native found dead in Princeton on Aug. 7.
They felt a wide range of emotions, including sadness, shock and outrage at what happened. For people who knew Vanessa and her family, those feelings were mixed with memories of the woman she was.
Marcotte worked the last 18 months as a healthcare account manager at Google in New York City, where she also lived. Her roots, though, were in Leominster.
She was baptized and made her first Communion at Our Lady of the Lake Parish in North Leominster, the same church where her parents got married. Marcotte’s father, John, lives in Leominster, and her mother lives in Princeton.
“I haven’t slept for two nights knowing the tragedy of what this family is going through, and the heartbreak, and the loss,” said Brenda Giambrocco, who knows Marcotte’s mother and whose son went to school with her.
Joanne Damico said her brother Mike is “great friends” with Marcotte’s father. She said Marcotte, John and John’s mother would visit the home of Mike and his wife each Thanksgiving, and Marcotte was close with Mike’s two children.
Damico said she found out about Marcotte’s death from her brother.
“When I read it I just couldn’t compute,” she said. “ … How can you sleep, knowing these people, knowing the horror, how do you even lay down and allow yourself anything but prayer?”
It was important to go to the vigil, Damico said, to “show him [John] that we’re here no matter when, and no matter what he needs, when, how, where, anything we can do.”
Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella said before the vigil that Marcotte’s family is known around Leominster for being “hardworking, honest, dedicated, loyal, good people, just the best of the best … in any value you can ever imagine.”
City residents, Mazzarella said, are feeling “outrage, shock, you can’t comprehend this, and that’s been the feeling here, is basically shock.”
Shock and sadness were the words City Councilor Claire Freda used in reaction to Marcotte’s death.
“There aren’t a whole lot of words that can describe it,” Freda said. “You don’t feel like that can happen in your community, and I know that’s a cliché. All these great communities that have the freedom to run and jog, have the freedom to walk, have the freedom to do so many different things, and now everybody’s got to start getting a little concerned about what they do. It goes beyond that. It’s every parent worrying about their child now, in a different way. ”
Debra Phillips made a small poster of Marcotte for the family and brought it to the vigil. She said she does not know the family, but she wanted to show her support.
“Anybody that comes from Leominster is always in our hearts, no matter where they are in the world, and we always come together for the love of family and have faith that we can get through all this together,” Phillips said, later adding, “I was so saddened, so sad that somebody could take such a beautiful life, just going out for a [run], and it’s such a senseless act. So we keep her in our prayers, and the family, and we all get through it together.”
Mazzarella hopes someone is able to provide information that leads to answers on what happened to Marcotte.
“I was a cop for 11 years,” he said. “I can’t comprehend this. As many times as it goes through my mind, I can’t comprehend it. And I know somebody saw something. There is somebody that has a piece of information that they could bring to the district attorney’s office.”