Death of Vermont student hits home
Megan Rees, Sophomore
The Etownian, Elizabethtown College
October 19, 2006

It was Monday, Oct. 9, when I found out my dear friend from Washington Semester, Michelle-Gardner-Quinn, was missing. I was doing the typical college student stalking on Facebook, when I saw my other friends posting bulletins titled: "PLEASE HELP, OUR FRIEND MICHELLE IS MISSING." I clicked on one the news links posted and realized that she had been missing since late Friday night.

Michelle, 21, just recently transferred to the University of Vermont in Burlington. She was out at a bar celebrating her friend's 21st birthday and was on her way to an after hours party. Unfortunately, that night her cell phone died. She asked a stranger, named Brian Rooney, if she could borrow his cell phone. That was the last anyone ever saw of her alive again.

I would avidly read the news with hopes that she would be found safe, but my hope was lost Friday Oct. 13, when the Burlington Police Department found Michelle's body at Huntington Gorge, a popular swimming hole in Vermont. Her death was ruled a homicide, but the cause of her death is still pending.

Rooney is currently the main suspect in this investigation. He is being held in prison on unrelated charges for acts of sexual assault toward children.

Knowing Michelle personally, this has been a rough week. Michelle was not just a friend to me; she was my neighbor on a close-knit floor called "Federal 2." All the memories I have of her are pleasant. She was one of the most real and amazing people I have ever met.

With a ring in her nose and her Parliament cigarettes, I remember our conversations and outings to clubs. In our own ways, we both wanted to make this world a better place.

Her death has affected all of us on the floor of Federal 2; none of us can understand why anyone would want to murder a beautiful and kind person like her. Every person has heard about missing people on television, but it does not affect you until you know them. Most of this felt like a scary dream and all I had to do was wake up. Sometimes, it still does. Reality has set in by now and I often find myself almost bi-polar. One minute, I am fine and even happy, but the next minute I break down into tears and all I want to do is hide in my room.

Death is never easy. I had no idea how hard and painful it is to know that I will never see my friend again because she was murdered. Since I know the world will not stop for me, I will eventually come to peace with this situation.

All I have now are the wonderful memories that we have made together and I will never forget them. This situation opened up my eyes and showed me that I should cherish every moment with my friends and family.

You never know when you might not see them again.

Michelle has touched the lives of everyone who has had the pleasure of meeting her. I will never forget her. Here's to you Michelle. Rest in peace.

In loving memory:

"Through my travels, I have learned tremendously, yet I feel that now is the time to settle down and explore internally. In this stage of life, I want to be able to practice what I preach, which includes internal connection to the natural world as well as community involvement." ~Michelle Gardner-Quinn

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