Family, friends gather to celebrate Priscilla Guzman's life

Saturday, March 3, 2012 | 7:24 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — The crowd bowed their heads in a moment of silence.

Tears streamed down cheeks made visible by candlelight.


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The group was gathered Friday night to remember the life of 18-year-old Priscilla Guzman. More than 50 people, including Guzman's family, attended a candlelight vigil at Capen Park, the location where Guzman's body was found by police Thursday.

Some in the crowd held homemade signs and posters commemorating Guzman. Others wore freshly printed T-shirts with a picture of Guzman on the front.

Those in attendance formed a circle in the parking lot while a few women handed out candles. After the silence, people took turns stepping into the circle and sharing their memories of Guzman.

Eli Black was one of the first to speak up. A former boyfriend and classmate of Guzman's, he spoke fondly of taking her to Rock Bridge High School's prom last spring.

"I asked her four months early," Black said. "We got into an argument before and almost didn't go. I'm really glad we did. It's a really special memory to me."

Black held a red sign with photos of Guzman and the phrase, "It's not goodbye, it's see you later," handwritten in ink. Black said he hoped the sign reminded people that they would see Guzman again.

"It's not a goodbye, it's a beginning," Black said. "I think it gives people a mode of confidence. It brings strength to everyone."

Other friends recalled Guzman's infectious spirit and trademark laugh, punctuated with an endearing snort.

"She was always so positive and upbeat," Black said.

Ricardo Guzman, Priscilla's father, thanked the crowd for coming out to celebrate Priscilla's life. He told the crowd he didn't plan on speaking but couldn't hold back what he had to say.

"I have four daughters," Ricardo Guzman said to the crowd through tears. "I feel like a part of me is now missing. Priscilla was my baby girl."

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