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Friends Mourn for Vermont Student

October 16, 2006|From the Associated Press

BURLINGTON, Vt. — About 900 people packed a brick chapel Sunday to remember a University of Vermont student found dead last week.

Michelle Gardner-Quinn's smile beamed down from two easel-mounted photographs as a minister and friends eulogized the 21-year-old senior, who was found dead Friday in a ravine near Burlington.

Gardner-Quinn was last seen Oct. 7 walking up Main Street in Burlington with Brian L. Rooney, 36, after borrowing his cellphone to call friends. Rooney, who was seen walking with her in surveillance footage shot by a store camera at 2:34 a.m., was apparently the last person to see her alive, according to police.

Rooney is scheduled to be arraigned in state District Court on unrelated charges of sexual assault on a minor. He is also charged with lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor in neighboring Essex County.

Police say he is a suspect in Gardner-Quinn's case, but he hasn't been charged. He has been jailed since Friday. Police have not given a cause of death. Gardner-Quinn's parents, sister and brother sat in the front row Sunday as the Rev. Sue Marie Baskette spoke. "We are angry and wanting to shout and scream at the top of our lungs. Why? Why, God, why? Yet there is no answer, only the stinging reminder of our frail existence here on Earth," Baskette said.

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