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Local Friends of Heichel Hold Vigil

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MEDFORD, Ore. – People in Southern Oregon gathered to honor a young Gresham woman who was shot to death.

On Wednesday night, more than a dozen people showed up at the candlelight vigil to honor Whitney Heichel, showing that those in Southern Oregon care about her and her family.

“Personally, I’ve looked through social media websites and everybody is talking about this and everybody is showing their support, and i would tell them to keep their heads held up high because there’s a whole bunch of people out there who love them,” said Cody Pitts, who attended the vigil.

On October 16th, Whitney disappeared on her way to work. She was later found dead in a remote forested area. Police said her neighbor, Jonathan Holt, shot her four times. It’s a tragedy that hits home for many.

“Because it was one friend away from being from, you know, our family in a way, is how it felt,” said vigil organizer, Rebecca Diaz.

Among the crowd was one of Whitney’s childhood friends. Brooke shoemaker knew her for more than 13 years. She found out about Whitney’s disappearance through Facebook.

“I really thought she was going to be okay,” said Brooke, “and so when she wasn’t, words can’t really describe…very devastating.”

Brooke said it’s the memory of Whitney she wants people to remember.

“Whitney, she was such the sweetest person,” Brooke recalled of her friend, “think of the sweetest person you know and that’s Whitney times 100. She is super caring, she has the biggest heart.”

Through Whitney’s death, Brooke said many can learn from it.

“I guess a positive thing about this would be she’s just opened a people’s eyes as to tell your loved ones you love them and to just be careful,” said Brooke.

Holt was arraigned on Monday and is facing seven counts of aggravated murder with a firearm.