Clustered close to Stillwater Area High School to shield against a ferocious wind, about 250 people held a vigil Sunday evening for Jennifer Houle, a University of Minnesota student missing since early Friday.
“God will bring Jennifer home,” the crowd was told before reciting the Lord’s Prayer.
Houle, 22, is a Carlson School of Management student and Pi Beta Phi sorority member. She was last seen early Friday when she was out with friends at the Blarney Pub, 412 14th Av. SE. in Minneapolis.
Houle, from Lake Elmo, graduated from Stillwater Area High School.
One of the people attending the vigil, Darrell Salmi, said everyone was “holding out hope” that Houle would be found.
“Jennifer is a positive kid, just an awesome kid,” said Salmi, who had taught her and her two brothers at Oak-Land Junior High School in Lake Elmo. “She’s there for everybody, she’s kindhearted, she’s outgoing, she’s a very intelligent and compassionate person. Just a superstar.”
Participants in the vigil were asked to wear purple — Houle’s favorite color — and to post ribbons on trees and light poles.
Her parents, John and Diane Houle, didn’t attend.
Police said her purse was found at 3 a.m. Friday about three blocks west of the bar in the Dinkytown neighborhood.
Counseling was offered Sunday to University of Minnesota students and employees concerned over Houle’s disappearance. Danita Brown Young, vice provost for student affairs and dean of students, said students should contact Boynton Health Service or University Counseling & Consulting Services if they want assistance.
“We remain hopeful that Ms. Houle will be found safe and sound,” Young said.
Houle is 5 feet, 5 inches tall, 140 pounds with long blond hair. She was wearing a black leather jacket, green blouse, black leggings and boots at the time, police said.
Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said earlier that investigators were working on several theories. He said Houle would not typically cut off contact after an evening out with friends.
Earlier, a man who answered a call at the Houle family’s home said the family declined to comment and that they were directing efforts toward assisting police in their search.
Pi Beta Phi chapter President Madeline Eddy confirmed that Houle is a member of the sorority and that fellow members were posting fliers on campus and making appeals on social media.
Police asked that anyone with information to call 911 or 612-692-8477. People also can text 847 411, then enter MPD and the tip.