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Vigil celebrates slain teen, Jessica Scholl's 18th birthday

Stephanie Scholl greets friends, family and first responders who came to celebrate the life of her daughter, Jessica, at a vigil for the slain teen Friday. Japanese lanterns, in the foreground, were lit and placed in Lake Washington at Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park.   - Tracey Compton, Renton Reporter
Stephanie Scholl greets friends, family and first responders who came to celebrate the life of her daughter, Jessica, at a vigil for the slain teen Friday. Japanese lanterns, in the foreground, were lit and placed in Lake Washington at Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park.
— image credit: Tracey Compton, Renton Reporter

A large gathering of family, friends and local law and fire department staff turned out to celebrate what would have been slain teen, Jessica Scholl's 18th birthday at Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park, Friday night.

Prosecutor's charge that Jessica was murdered in May by her former boyfriend, Jarod Lane.

Her mother, Stephanie Scholl, along with family and friends organized a vigil at the park that included lighting Japanese lanterns with lotus flowers and setting them adrift in Lake Washington. The purple flowers where chosen because the color represents domestic violence awareness and it was one of Jessica's favorite colors.

"If anything, we want to make sure that Jessica's death is not in vain," said Stephanie Scholl. "We'll be continuing to move forward and making sure that if we can save one child's life, one adult life, anybody from having to go through something like this, that's what we're trying to do."

Stephanie Scholl said she felt great about the turnout at the vigil, which included many touched by her daughter's tragedy, including Mayor Denis Law.

"I guess I just want to be supportive of the family," said Law in response to why he attended the vigil. "It was a very, very tragic incident. This senseless killing really had an impact on a lot of people including our fire fighters and police officers who handled the case."

Emergency crews first responded to a fire at the Scholl residence last May. Prosecutor's say that Lane, her former boyfriend, set fire to the house to cover up the murder scene inside.

Tina Harris is a domestic violence victim's advocate for the City of Renton. She has been working closely with the Scholls to guide them through the court process and serve as a liaison between the police department. Harris, along with other law enforcement and fire officials, were invited to attend the vigil by the family.

"I think it's also a healing process for law enforcement and the fire department," Harris said. "Because I think often times the public forgets that these are first responders and fire fighters, who never expected to see what they saw, nor do officers. They are trained to see a lot of things, but when you have a young person, who has been brutally killed and murdered in the way that she was, this is also a healing process for a lot of people."

Harris felt honored to be included by the family, she said.

A girlfriend of Stephanie Scholl's had Seahawks, fan t-shirts made to sell to raise funds for a memorial for Jessica in the future. Some attendees at the vigil purchased the shirts.

Jessica wasn't much of a sports fan, said her mother, but the funds will go towards a memorial after their house is rebuilt.

"We wanted this to be happy day and as hard as it is, we're intent on hoping this is a happy day for people - a chance for Jessica's friends and family to pay a special tribute to her," said Stephanie Scholl.

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