A tearful candlelight vigil for Jenni McGruder - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

A tearful candlelight vigil for Jenni McGruder

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Jenni McGruder's sister sheds tears while holding a candle in her honor Jenni McGruder's sister sheds tears while holding a candle in her honor
GALESBURG, Ill. (WEEK) -- -

Hundreds were gathered in Galesburg at a candlelight vigil for Jenni McGruder Wednesday night.

McGruder was the woman fatally shot by a stray bullet on Easter.

Her killer remains at large, but while police work to find the man, her family says they will not stop honoring her. The large turn out at her vigil, comprised of local business owners, former high school friends, strangers and of course, her loved ones, demonstrated that the entire community, would not forget her either. 

McGruder's husband Michael, only a widower for a few days, tried to hold it together as he stood before the large crowd full of people who also loved his wife. 

"Words can't explain...it doesn't replace her, but the love...I don't know what else to say." he said while addressing them. 

Honoring Jenni in the same location she spent her final moments, one by one, people laid flowers and held candles to pay their respects.

"She had that laugh that just always stuck in your head." said Dana Maxwell, a family friend, as she reflected on several memories.

Another woman, who says she knew Jenni since birth and spoke to Jenni just two days before her death, struggled to put into words how she felt about her . "She was a great girl. I just wanna say I'm so sorry to Michael and her two adorable children." Through sobs, Becky McCormick listed other family members whom she offered her condolences. 

Trying their best to honor the 26-year-old mother of two, Jenni's family wore shirts that read 'Your wings were ready but my heart was not.'

Damia McGruder, Jenni's younger cousin proudly wore one of those shirts and explained why she would miss Jenni. "I loved her a lot. Anytime I was being mean or arguing with my mom she would help me out. She always told me to do track so I guess I'll do to for her." 

Michael McGruder says he's not sure how he'll be able to move on without his wife, but he's grateful he doesn't have to do it alone. 

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