BANGOR, Maine — Brooke Locke gave Julya Spadaccini a tour of Husson University three years ago.
Spadaccini, now a third-year student majoring in physical therapy, stayed with Locke for three days because the Southern California girl couldn’t get a flight out due to a blizzard.
“If it wasn’t for Brooke and her smile and her telling me this was the greatest place, I wouldn’t be here,” Spadaccini, 20, of Azusa, Calif., said Sunday night at a vigil for her slain classmate. “She was my first friend. I know she’s looking down on us and watching us.”
Locke, 21, a third-year occupational therapy student at Husson and member of the Epsilon Tau Epsilon sorority, was found dead Nov. 18 in the apartment she shared with fellow Husson student Zackery Mailloux, 21, police have said. Locke and Mailloux had recently broken up, according to a friend.
Mailloux was charged with murder shortly after police discovered Locke’s body and is being held at Penobscot County Jail without bail. He could be indicted Wednesday in Locke’s strangulation death by a Penobscot County grand jury.
Originally scheduled to be held outside at the bell tower, the vigil was moved into the Newman Gymnasium late Sunday afternoon due to the cold weather and high winds, according to Eric Gordon, spokesman for Husson.
More than 150 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members attended the 45-minute service planned by Locke’s sorority sisters. Locke’s parents, Priscilla Locke of Auburn and Bill Locke of Darby, Mont., and other relatives attended the vigil but did not address the gathering.
Red, silver and black balloons adorned one end of the gym and posters displayed photos of Locke. Those who spoke described Locke as the young woman who was always smiling, eager to help others and hardworking.
“Brooke was my work study student for three years,” Cecile Ferguson, the office manager for the School of Physical Therapy, said. “I look for somebody who’s smart, has a sense of humor and doesn’t take herself too seriously. After meeting with Brooke for just a few minutes, I knew she was exactly that type of person.”
Ferguson also said that Locke had “a great sense of fashion.” Even when she was doing laundry, she wore boots with heels and her nails and makeup were “perfect,” she said.
Husson University President Bill Clark urged the college community to support one another because “a sorrow shared is a burden shared.”
After the service, Bill Locke spoke to reporters. He described the events of the last week as “overwhelming.”
“I knew that I had a special child, I always did,” he said. “It’s a shame. We’d like to be able to just bring her back, but we can’t. Unfortunately, there are people in society who just ruin beautiful things.”
Bill Locke said that when he left his Montana home early Saturday, he saw a shooting star travel across the sky.
“I knew, there was Brooke,” he said.
Locke’s funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Monday at the Fortin Funeral Home, 217 Turner St., Auburn.
Her Edward Little High School classmates will hold a candlelight vigil near the school’s bell tower at 5 p.m. Wednesday, said Cassandra Hartford, who along with 2010 class president Chris Camire has created the Facebook page “In Remembrance of Brooke Locke.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.
BDN writer Nok-Noi Ricker contributed to this report.
An earlier version of this story requires correction. Mailloux could be indicted Wednesday, Nov. 27, not Nov. 30 as previously stated.