"She saw things and did what she could, whatever she could, however she could," said her college minister

By Andrea Billups
Updated February 11, 2015 08:10 AM
Advertisement
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier/AP

Family and friends, as well as President Barack Obama, paid tribute to the late American ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller after her family revealed the heartbreaking news on Tuesday that they had received confirmation of her death.

“Kayla has touched the heart of the world,” her aunt Lori Lyon told reporters gathered in her hometown of Prescott, Arizona, the New York Times reports.

Added Kathleen Day, who heads the United Christian ministry at Northern Arizona University, where Mueller, 26, graduated from college in 2009: “It’s not that she’s so angelic. She saw things and did what she could, whatever she could, however she could.”

President Obama offered his condolences to the family and noted Mueller’s impact and spirit of service. ”

She “was an outstanding young woman and a great spirit – and I think that spirit will live on,” he said. “The more people learn about her, the more they appreciate what she stood for – and how it stands in contrast with the barbaric organization that held her captive.”

Vice President Joe Biden, in a Tweet, described himself as “Deeply moved by the life of Kayla Mueller.”

He added of U.S. solidarity against evil: “Our nation is stronger than any enemy can understand.”

Mueller had been captured on Aug. 4, 2013, as she left a hospital in Aleppa, Syria, that is run by Spanish Doctors Without Borders. Her death was confirmed by U.S. intelligence authorities who reviewed three photographs of her body sent to her parents from her ISIS captors, according to The Times.

Even as Mueller had been held jailed for more than a year, her focus remained spiritual, it was shown in a handwritten letter released by her family, reports ABC News.

In it, she apologized for her capture and said she didn’t want to burden her family with worry.

“All and all, in the end, the only one you really have is God. Even in prison one can be free,” wrote Mueller. “By God and by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in free fall.”