WASHINGTON — A candlelight vigil in Alexandria Thursday night was a time for the community to come together for missing University of Virginia student, Hannah Graham.
Dozens attended the event at Aldersgate United Methodist Church. The Rev. Dr. Dennis Perry says students at West Potomac High School, where Graham graduated in 2013, initially asked the church to host a prayer vigil just for them.
“Then they came back and said, ‘Well, could we invite our friends if we open it to the community?’ And it grew from there,” Perry said.
Among the dozens who attended was the school’s head softball coach, Craig Maniglia, who said Graham was a joy.
“Top of the class,” Maniglia recalls. “Very great athlete. Good kid to be around. Never late. Always on time. Always organized. It’s just a tragedy.”
Maniglia says he is coping with the news of the search.
“This is just so out of left field,” Maniglia says. “She played left field, but this is not [Graham]. She doesn’t do the things that we’re seeing on TV.”
Maniglia says he thinks Graham is alive.
“I believe that she’s strong, she’s safe, [and] she’ll figure it out if she can. If the opportunity presents itself, she’ll be smarter than whatever situation she’s in.”
Maniglia says another vigil is already being planned at the school softball field for some time next week.
The Alexandria vigil wasn’t the only one held for Graham Thursday. Another vigil for the 18-year-old occurred in Charlottesville Thursday evening — the same city where her search continues.