It was supposed to have been a night of glamour and celebration for the students at Jonathan Law High School in Milford, Conn.
Instead, friends decked out in their prom best made their way to a nearby beach to mourn the death of classmate Maren Sanchez, 16, who was stabbed to death earlier in the day inside their high school.
Police are investigating whether the junior had been killed for rejecting a fellow student’s prom invitation to be his date, and authorities confirmed that a 16-year-old boy had been taken into custody. His name has not been disclosed due to juvenile offender laws.
According to the Hartford Courant, on Friday evening about 200 friends and loved ones gathered at Walnut Beach to honor Sanchez.
There, members of the group, many of whom were dressed in flowing gowns and tuxedos, paid tribute to Sanchez through anecdotes and remembrances as tears flowed freely, the paper reports. The Jonathan Law High School prom, which had been set for Friday evening, has been postponed.
In a Tweet posted from the vigil, classmates crowned Sanchez “Jonathan Law’s Prom Queen of 2014,” and held up a green dress meant to keep their slain schoolmate’s spirit alive.
The group also released purple balloons emblazoned with the words “Love you, Maren.”
“We are obviously devastated by the loss of one of our students, Maren Sanchez,” schools Superintendent Elizabeth Feser said at a news conference earlier on Friday. “She was a 16-year-old junior – vibrant, very, very involved in Jonathan Law High School, an incredible contributor, someone who was loved and respected.”