- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 7, 2007

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — There’s a small, makeshift memorial to Michelle Gardner-Quinn next to the fountain on the University of Vermont green. Few students lounging recently on a warm fall day noticed the images of the Northern Virginia woman killed a year ago this weekend, but she is not forgotten.

The things she held dear are being commemorated with a week of activities and remembrances. And there’s been a focus on student safety, and measures have been taken to protect them.

“Burlington is a really safe city, but you always make sure you go out with a group,” said freshman Kaitlin Heffernan, 18.

The university is making it possible for people to commemorate the death of Miss Gardner-Quinn, of Arlington, in their own way.

The first event was held Friday, a raffle to raise money for a scholarship in her honor. There will be a night of remembrance Wednesday. And a candlelight march will be held Friday, from downtown Burlington to the campus, the same route Miss Gardner-Quinn was to have taken the night she disappeared.

Saturday is the first Michelle Gardner-Quinn Memorial Hike. The event will raise money for the Michelle Gardner-Quinn Memorial Fund for Environmental Studies.

Miss Gardner-Quinn’s death has resulted in university and local police preparing for possible abductions and reacting to them.

“When something as tragic as Michelle happens, you’ve got to stop and look again and ask yourself, ‘What are we not doing that we could be doing?’ ” said university police Chief Gary Margolis.

The university has installed a new campuswide emergency-notification system, in large response to Miss Gardner-Quinn’s death and the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech, in which 32 persons were killed. The system is scheduled to be operational next month.

The university also has made a deal with taxi companies to allow students to pay for a ride with campus IDs and debit cards, Chief Margolis said.

Across campus, students have been looking for unlocked doors or unlighted areas, said Ben Porter, a 20-year-old senior from Burlington and member of the student government. “I think this has really changed the way people think about safety,” he said.

Brian Rooney, the Richmond, Vt., man charged with sexually assaulting, then killing Miss Gardner-Quinn after he loaned her his cell phone on Burlington’s Main Street, is awaiting trial, possibly before the end of the year.

Mr. Rooney, 37, is charged with aggravated murder. He is also facing unrelated aggravated sexual-assault charges.

Miss Gardner-Quinn, a committed environmentalist, was a senior but in her first year at the university. She transferred to join the environmental-studies program.

Miss Gardner-Quinn, 21, was reported missing last Oct. 7 after she didn’t return to her dorm after a night out with friends in downtown Burlington. A surveillance camera on a downtown jewelry store recorded her and Mr. Rooney walking together up Main Street toward the campus.

After a high-profile search and police investigation, Miss Gardner-Quinn’s body was found Oct. 13 next to the Huntington Gorge in Richmond. Police say she had been sexually assaulted and died of blunt-force trauma and strangulation.


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