BANGOR, Maine — Even those who never met Nicolle Lugdon would have gotten a solid sense of the kind of woman she was during a vigil in her memory at Cascade Park.
She loved her music — namely rap and hip-hop. She loved to dance. She was a proud mother, a good friend to many and made a strong impression on people, some of them far outside of her age range.
The three homicide victims — Lugdon; Daniel T. Borders, 26, of Hermon; and Lucas A. Tuscano, 28, of Bradford — were found burned beyond recognition inside a white Pontiac with Rhode Island plates that was discovered on fire early on Aug. 13.
Their killer has yet to be arrested.
On Friday night, nearly 75 friends and family members gathered to remember Lugdon during a vigil that featured a slideshow set to the kind of music she loved most. After the sun set, the mourners released dozens of helium-filled balloons and watched quietly as they drifted up into the star-filled sky.
Joey Landry, Lugdon’s 18-year-old cousin, was among the family members who turned up.
Landry smiled as he remembered hunting bullfrogs with Lugdon when the two were kids. He said someone in the Levant neighborhood he lived in when he was 6 years old organized a contest offering a $20 prize for the biggest specimen and that he and his cousin teamed up and won.
“She’s the only family I ever met on my dad’s side,” he said. “We were really close as children,” he said. “Something happened when she was little and I hadn’t seen her for years but in the past two years we met back up. We were hanging out pretty much every day for a while until recently.”
“I’m just here to pay my respect, you know what I mean?” he said.
“She was a good mother, she was a good friend she was a very good girl,” said a friend who declined to provide her name.
“What happened to her is a terrible tragedy,” added Christen Bouchard, whose sister was one of Lugdon’s close friends.
Jay Fader, a local rapper, agreed.
“It’s just really messed up what happened to her,” Fader said, adding that another tribute for Lugdon is planned for next week. This year’s edition of Rap Phest, set for 7 p.m. Friday at the TimeOut Restaurant and Event Center in Brewer, will be dedicated in her memory.
Several of the people who attended the vigil, including the event’s organizer, declined to be interviewed Friday night, saying they were displeased about some of the things from her past reported by the media after Lugdon’s death.
Former boyfriend Aaron Davis was one of those who was upset about how she has been portrayed by the media. Despite that, he did share his feelings about Lugdon, who he last saw only days before her death.
“She’s amazing. She’s contagious. She makes everybody want to know her,” Davis said. “She smiles, the whole room lights up. I can’t imagine anybody ever wanting to hurt her. She was special,” he said.
“Tonight, we’re gonna celebrate,” he said as the multimedia presentation began. “I don’t wanna hear anybody crying. Do it real good for Nikki.”
While the vast majority of those who attended were in Lugdon’s age range, her friendships apparently spanned generations.
Former City Councilor Hal Wheeler, who met her through her job at Staples, was among those who came by to pay their respects.
“The first time we spoke I could tell this was an extraordinary young woman,” Wheeler said. “While she never got into any deep details of her life I knew that she had lived a lot, more than many people her age.”
“Although I was old enough to be her grandfather, I never felt there was any gulf of age or generation between us. She had the ability to be just the right person — the person you wanted her to be or the person you needed her to be — without losing her own identity,” Wheeler said.
“I’ve been astonished at how many people in the community that are of a considerably older age knew her, met her or knew of her. She had an enormous impact on people [because of] the power and depth of her personality.”