Officials name 11 victims in deadly Pittsburgh synagogue shooting
Last Updated Oct 29, 2018 2:25 AM EDT
Authorities have released the names of the 11 people killed by a gunman during worship services in a Pittsburgh synagogue. The victims ranged in age from 54 to 97, and included brothers and a husband and wife.
Authorities said the suspected gunman, Robert Bowers , made statements about genocide and killing Jewish people. Bowers has been arrested and is being treated for gunshot wounds at a hospital. Bowers, who was armed with an AR-15 rifle and three handguns, told an officer “that he wanted all Jews to die and also that they (Jews) were committing genocide to his people,” an affidavit said.
He was charged late Saturday with 11 state counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation in what the leader of the Anti-Defamation League called the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history.
Bowers was also charged Saturday in a 29-count federal criminal complaint that included the charge of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs — a federal hate crime. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the charges “could lead to the death penalty.”
Here’s what we know about the victims:
David Rosenthal, 54, and Cecil Rosenthal, 59 David, left, and Cecil Rosenthal
TribLive David and Cecil Rosenthal went through life together with help from a disability-services organization. And an important part of the brothers’ lives was the Tree of Life Congregation, where friends said they never missed Saturday services.
“If they were here, they would tell you that is where they were supposed to be,” Chris Schopf, a vice president of Achieva, said in a statement. Achieva provides help with daily living, employment and other needs. The organization had worked for years with the brothers.
They lived semi-independently, and Cecil was a person who was up for all sorts of activities: a concert, lunch at the restaurant chain Eat ‘n Park or a trip to the Duquesne University dining hall, said David DeFelice, a Duquesne senior who was paired with him in a buddies program.
The two left an impression on state Rep. David Frankel, who sometimes attends services at Tree of Life and whose chief of staff is the Rosenthals’ sister.
“They were very sweet, gentle, caring men,” Frankel said. “I know that this community will really mourn their loss because they were such special people.”
Richard Gottfried, 65 Gottfried was preparing for a new chapter in his life. He ran a dental office with his wife and practice partner Margaret “Peg” Durachko Gottfried. The dentist, who often did charity work seeing patients who could not otherwise afford dental care, was preparing to retire in the next few months.
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66 Jerry Rabinowitz
Dr. Rabinowitz and his partner in his medical practice were seemingly destined to spend their professional lives together. He and Dr. Kenneth Ciesielka had been friends for more than 30 years, since they lived on the same floor at the University of Pennsylvania.
Ciesielka was a few years behind Rabinowitz, but whether by fate or design, the two always ended up together. They went to the same college, the same medical school and even had the same residency at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) a few years apart.
“He is one of the finest people I’ve ever met. We’ve been in practice together for 30 years and friends longer than that,” Ciesielka said. “His patients are going to miss him terribly. His family is going to miss him terribly and I am going to miss him. He was just one of the kindest, finest people.”
Rabinowitz, a family practitioner at UPMC Shadyside, was remembered by UPMC as one of its “kindest physicians.” The hospital said in a statement that “the UPMC family, in particular UPMC Shadyside, cannot even begin to express the sadness and grief we feel over the loss.”
“Those of us who worked with him respected and admired his devotion to his work and faith. His loss is devastating,” Tami Minnier, UPMC chief quality officer, wrote in a statement on Twitter.
Irving Younger, 69 A neighbor in Pittburgh’s Mount Washington neighborhood on Sunday remembered victim Irving Younger as “a really nice guy.”
Jonathan Voye told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Younger was personable and occasionally spoke with him about family or the weather. “I’m scared for my kids’ future,” Mr. Voye told the Post-Gazette. “How can you have that much hate for your fellow neighbor?”
Tina Prizner told the Tribune-Review she’s lived next door to Younger for several years. Prizner said he was a “wonderful” father and grandfather.
The one-time real estate company owner “talked about his daughter and his grandson, always, and he never had an unkind word to say about anybody,” Prizner told the Tribune-Review.
Daniel Stein, 71 Daniel Stein
Barry Werber via AP Stein was a visible member of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, where he was a leader in the New Light Congregation and his wife, Sharyn, is the membership vice president of the area’s Hadassah chapter. He had recently become a grandfather.
“Their Judaism is very important to them, and to him,” said chapter co-president Nancy Shuman. “Both of them were very passionate about the community and Israel.”
The 71-year-old was president of the Men’s Club at Tree of Life. He also was among a group of New Light members who, along with Wax and Richard Gottfried, 65, made up “the religious heart” of the congregation, Cohen, the congregation co-president, said.
Stein’s nephew Steven Halle told the Tribune-Review that his uncle “was always willing to help anybody.” With his generous spirit and dry sense of humor, “he was somebody that everybody liked,” Halle said.
Joyce Fienberg, 75 Fienberg and her late husband, Stephen, were intellectual power houses. Those who knew them say they were the kind of people who used that intellect to help others.
The 75-year-old spent most of her career at the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center, retiring in 2008 from her job as a researcher looking at learning in the classroom and in museums. She worked on several projects, including studying the practices of highly effective teachers.
Dr. Gaea Leinhardt, who was Fienberg’s research partner for decades, said she is devastated by the murder of her colleague and friend. “Joyce was a magnificent, generous, caring, and profoundly thoughtful human being,” she said.
Stephen, who died in 2016 after a battle with cancer, was a renowned professor of statistics and social science at Carnegie Mellon University. His work was used in shaping national policies in forensic science, education and criminal justice.
The couple married in 1965 and had moved to Pittsburgh in the early 1980s. Joyce began her work at the center in 1983. The couple had two sons and several grandchildren.
Melvin Wax, 88 Melvin Wax
Barry Werber via AP Wax was the first to arrive at New Light Congregation in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood — and the last to leave.
Fellow members of the congregation, which rented space in the lower level of the Tree of Life Synagogue, said Wax was a kind man and a pillar of the congregation, filling just about every role except cantor.
Myron Snider said Wax would stay late to tell jokes with him and said his friend was unfailingly generous. “When my daughters were younger, they would go to him, and he would help them with their federal income tax every year. Never charged them.”
“He and I used to, at the end of services, try to tell a joke or two to each other. Most of the time they were clean jokes. Most of the time. I won’t say all the time, but most of the time.”
New Light moved to the Tree of Life building about a year ago, when the congregation of about 100 mostly older members could no longer afford its own space, said administrative assistant Marilyn Honigsberg. She said Wax, who lost his wife Sandra in 2016, was always there when services began at 9:45 a.m.
Snider said Wax was a pillar of the congregation, filling just about every role except cantor. Snider had just been released from a six-week hospital stay for pneumonia and was not at Saturday’s services. “He called my wife to get my phone number in the hospital so he could talk to me,” Snider said. “Just a sweet, sweet guy.”
Bernice Simon, 84; Sylvan Simon, 86 The Simons were a married couple who were retired and liked to take walks around the neighborhood.
Rose Mallinger, 97 Rose Mallinger was the oldest victim in Saturday’s shooting. Worshipers remember her as almost the first to always walk into services and was described by a relative as “the most caring gentle loving woman.”
Her daughter was among those wounded in the shooting.
Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims identified as brothers, husband and wife killed in ‘unspeakable and hateful crime’
Mass Murder Published 23 hours ago Last Update 18 hours ago Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims identified as brothers, husband and wife killed in ‘unspeakable and hateful crime’ By Travis Fedschun | Fox News Facebook Twitter Flipboard Comments Print Email close Video Law enforcement treating synagogue attack as hate crime Authorities believe alleged gunman Robert Bowers acted alone and was driven by his hatred of Jews; David Lee Miller reports from Pittsburg on what more is being learned about the suspect.
The victims of the massacre at a synagogue in Pittsburgh included a grandfather, a husband and wife, and two brothers, officials and family members revealed as new details about the alleged gunman behind the deadly rampage were released Sunday.
The Tree of Live victims were identified as Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland; Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township; Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood; Cecil Rosenthal, 59, of Squirrel Hill; David Rosenthal, 54, of Squirrel Hill; Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg; Sylvan Simon, 87, of Wilkinsburg; Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill; Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill; and Irving Younger, 69, of Mount Washington.
President Trump ordered flags at federal locations throughout the U.S. to be flown at half-staff in respect for the victims. In a proclamation, Trump declared: “I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, October 31, 2018. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.”
U.S. Attorney Scott Brady called the massacre an “unspeakable and hateful crime” during a news conference, adding that alleged gunman Robert Gregory Bowers made statements regarding genocide and his desire to kill Jewish people during the shooting rampage.
Pittsburgh synagogue shooting: What to know A gunman opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing multiple people. Here’s what you need to know about the tragedy.
One of the first victims to be identified by family members was 71-year-old Dan Stein, who once served as the president of the New Light Congregation, which holds services at the Tree of Life Synagogue where the shooting took place.
“He was very active and he did everything,” Stein's nephew Steven Halle told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review . “He was there every Saturday for services.”
Stein recently became a grandfather and was remembered as someone always willing to help others.
Daniel Stein, 71, was among those killed in the massacre. (Facebook)
“He was always willing to help anybody,” Halle told the paper. “He was somebody that everybody liked, very dry sense of humor and recently had a grandson who loved him.”
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Cecil and David Rosenthal were brothers and both perished in the rampage, according to Allegheny County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Karl Williams. Bernice and Sylvan Simon were married and were also among the dead in the rampage, he added.
A friend of Melvin Wax told the Associated Press that the retired accountant was a “sweet, sweet guy,” and a pillar of the New Light Congregation that rented space on the lower level of the synagogue.
“He was such a kind, kind person,” Myron Snider, chairman of the congregation's cemetery committee, told the AP. “When my daughters were younger, they would go to him, and he would help them with their federal income tax every year. Never charged them.
Gideon Murphy places a flower at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
“He and I used to, at the end of services, try to tell a joke or two to each other. Most of the time they were clean jokes. Most of the time. I won't say all the time. But most of the time.”
Snider said Wax, who was slightly hard of hearing, was a pillar of the congregation, filling just about every role except cantor.
“He went Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, when there were Sunday services,” said Snider, a retired pharmacist. “If somebody didn't come that was supposed to lead services, he could lead the services and do everything. He knew how to do everything at the synagogue. He was really a very learned person.”
The Tree of Life Congregation where a deadly shooting took place on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh. ((Andrew Stein/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)
Jerry Rabinowitz, a 66-year-old personal physician, was known for his uplifting demeanor, according to former Allegheny County Deputy District Attorney Law Claus. In an email sent to his former coworkers on Sunday, Claus passed along his condolences to Rabinowitz's family, saying “he was truly a trusted confidant and healer.”
The survivors included Daniel Leger, 70, a retired nurse and hospital chaplain who was in critical condition after undergoing surgery, his brother, Paul Leger, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Daniel Leger was scheduled to lead a service Saturday morning and sustained critical injuries to his chest, he said.
Daniel Leger was seriously injured in the shooting. (Facebook)
“I don’t think it really quite struck home,” Paul Leger told the Tribune-Review . “This is something like on TV.”
Pittsburgh police said in an arrest affidavit made public early Sunday that Bowers killed eight men and three women in the Tree of Life Synagogue before a tactical police team tracked him down and shot him. Bowers was being treated for his injuries when he said Jews were “committing genocide to his people,” and that he wanted them all to die.
Bowers walked into the synagogue during Sabbath services on Saturday morning armed with an AR-15 rifle and three handguns before opening fire, killing 11 people and wounding six. It was the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history, according to the leader of the Anti-Defamation League.
WHO IS ROBERT BOWERS? PITTSBURGH SYNAGOGUE SUSPECT POSTED VIEWS ONLINE
Police later traded gunfire with Bowers, who was shot multiple times but survived. Four police officers were among the wounded. Bowers faces 11 counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation in addition to federal counts that include weapons offenses and hate crime charges.
Media tents and vehicles line an intersection near the Tree of Life Synagogue, upper left, where a shooter opened fire Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar))
Robert Jones, special agent in charge of the FBI's Pittsburgh office, said it may take up to a week to process the crime scene. Bowers has an initial appearance in federal court scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Monday.
“This was a large, complex crime scene and much work remains to be done,” he said at a news conference. A search of Bowers' home in Baldwin has been conducted, but officials have not disclosed what was discovered inside. There is also nothing to indicate that Bowers had any accomplices, he added.
“We don’t know why he picked this synagogue,” Jones said.
Police making rapid progress in Pittsburgh shooting Former FBI special agent Maureen O’Connell weighs in.
The attack took place just before 10 a.m. in the residential neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, about 10 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh and the hub of Pittsburgh's Jewish community. Peter Hart, who has lived a few blocks from the synagogue for just over three decades, told Fox News on Saturday said it's “a very tight community,” and the rampage was “a shock.”
“It’s not that Pittsburgh has no crime, it’s not that, but among the safest neighborhoods is the neighborhood that this happened in,” Hart told Fox News.
Fox News’ Emilie Ikeda, Matt Leach and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Travis Fedschun is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @travfed
These Are The Victims Of The Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting
Jeff Swensen / Getty Images A gunman shouting anti-Semitic statements opened fire inside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania , on Saturday morning, leaving behind a trail of death and destruction.
Three different congregations had been meeting for regular Shabbat services inside the large building in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood when the gunman entered. Eleven worshippers didn’t make it out alive.
A suspect has now been arrested and charged under federal hate crime laws.
Here are the stories of the 11 victims from the mass shooting, which is believed to be the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in US history.
Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill Melvin Wax’s friend, Myron Snider, told the Associated Press that Wax was a “kind person.”
“When my daughters were younger, they would go to him, and he would help them with their federal income tax every year. Never charged them,” Snider told the news outlet. The two friends also enjoyed trading laughs together, he added.
“He and I used to, at the end of services, try to tell a joke or two to each other,” Snider said. “Most of the time they were clean jokes. Most of the time. I won’t say all the time. But most of the time.”
In 2013, Wax took the time to write to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for a column on “Random Acts of Kindness,” detailing how security guards at a hospital had helped him and his wife fix a flat tire. “It wasn’t easy — they had to struggle to get the damaged tire off. They worked approximately 30 minutes and did the job. They wouldn’t accept any reward, but they get my MVP award!” he wrote.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette @PittsburghPG A close family friend of Melvin Wax, 88, a victim of the Tree of Life Congregation shooting, speaks about Wax and the community. https://t.co/V7H3eYNcoW
04:51 PM – 28 Oct 2018 Reply Retweet Favorite A family friend, Bill Cartiff, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Wax was an “easygoing, gentle, quiet” man. Going to the synagogue was just part of Wax’s routine, Cartiff said.
“That was as important to him as having breakfast,” he said.
Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill Facebook Stein’s nephew, Steven Halle, 55, described his uncle as a “family man,” who worked hard and loved his synagogue.
“He was a great person,” Halle told BuzzFeed News in an interview Sunday. “He was a family man. He worked hard. He was religious. He loved going to the synagogue every Saturday, every week, to do events. He loved to be there. This is what he looked forward to every week. He never missed it.”
Halle said Stein thrived in the company of others, and after he retired, still “picked up odd jobs, just to be with people.”
Noting mournfully that Stein’s grandson was born just last year, Halle added, “I think that’s the worst of it. This grandson will never get to have his grandfather. It’s a tragic loss.”
“My aunt and her kids are totally devastated,” Halle said. “Nobody got to say goodbye.”
Facebook In a Facebook post Sunday, Joe Stein, Daniel’s son, wrote about his father’s love for his grandson and the Tree of Life synagogue.
“My dad was a simple man and did not require much. In the picture below he was having a great day doing two things he loved very much,” Joe Stein wrote. “He had just finished coming from synagogue, which he loved, and then got to play with his grandson which he loved even more! We love you dad more than you’ll ever know!”
Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland, City of Pittsburgh Joyce Fienberg worked at the Learning Research & Development Center, from 1983 until 2008 as a research specialist, the organization wrote in a tribute posted on Facebook , calling Fienberg “an engaging, elegant, and warm person.”
Gaea Leinhardt, who worked with Fienberg at the center characterized the former research assistant as “a magnificently caring, generous and thoughtful human being.”
“She never forgot anyone’s birthday. She was always available for whatever one might need,” Leinhardt told the Washington Post.
Joyce’s late husband Stephen Fienberg was an internationally acclaimed professor of statistics and social science at Carnegie Mellon University. When he died in 2016, a funeral service was held at the Tree of Life synagogue.
A Twitter account for Stephen Fienberg’s former department at the university described Joyce as a “treasured member of the @CMU_Stats family for almost 40 years.”
“She was much loved and will be deeply missed,” the group said.
Statistician Jason Connor said the Fienbergs were “like parents” to the professor’s students. “We knew we had a place for dinner or a hug or wine and talk. Such caring sweet gentle generous souls,” he wrote on Twitter. “2 sons lost a mom senselessly. But about 60 of Steve’s students lost a mom too.”
Cecil Rosenthal, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54, of Squirrel Hill Best Buddies David, left, and Cecil Rosenthal.
Cecil Rosenthal and his brother, David Rosenthal, never missed a Saturday service at Tree of Life. The two brothers, who had intellectual disabilities, were “inseparable,” and lived together in Squirrel Hill, according to Chris Schopf with ACHIEVA, an organization that helps people who have disabilities in Pittsburgh.
“Cecil’s laugh was infectious,” Schopf said in a statement. “David was so kind and had such a gentle spirit. Together, they looked out for one another. They were inseparable. Most of all, they were kind, good people with a strong faith and respect for everyone around.”
Cecil was more outgoing, while Davis was quieter, family friend Raye Coffey told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review .
For almost a decade, Cecil had also been an active member of Best Buddies, a non-profit group that works to enhance the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by pairing them up with friends.
“Cecil’s faith was a huge part of his life and Best Buddies was the other big part of his life,” Samantha Civitate, the group’s Pittsburgh area director, told BuzzFeed News.
Civitate said she would regularly see Cecil at the group’s community events, where he would often be looking for a “snack buddy” to enjoy food with.
“Everyone that has spoken about him has just said how kind and gentle he was,” she said.
Best Buddies Cecil with his Best Buddies friend David DeFelice.
Cecil was partnered with his last friend, Duquesne University student David DeFelice, in 2015. Writing on Facebook about the first time he met Cecil, DeFelice said that his new friend was “elated” when he discovered DeFelice was also Jewish. The pair once went to the Tree of Life synagogue together to Daven , or recite Jewish prayers.
“A kind and spirited individual with a giant heart,” DeFelice wrote of Cecil, who he said was “murdered for simply being Jewish.”
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood Borough Family/NPR Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz was a doctor of family medicine at UPMC Shadyside. He had been in practice with his friend, Dr. Kenneth Ciesielka, for more than 30 years, Ciesielka told the AP.
“His patients are going to miss him terribly. His family is going to miss him terribly and I am going to miss him,” Ciesielka said. “He was just one of the kindest, finest people.”
Tami Minnier, UPMC’s chief quality officer, said the loss was devastating to the staff.
“Those of use who worked with him respected and admired his devotion to his work and faith,” Minnier said .
A former patient, Jerry Schmidt, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that Rabinowitz was a remarkable doctor.
“Every time I would see him, he would do the exam and he would then take me into his office and we talked. There was no rush to get out of his office. It was like I was the only patient he had — and I know that’s not true,” Schmitt told his son, reporter Ben Schmitt.
Another acquaintance of Rabinowitz, former Allegheny County Deputy District Attorney Law Claus, called the doctor a “trusted confidant and healer.”
In an email to sent to his former co-workers, Claus said Rabinowitz was a man of sage advice who had a touch of “genuine humor,” according to the AP “He had a truly uplifting demeanor, and as a practicing physician he was among the very best.”
Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill Facebook
Former Tree of Life rabbi Chuck Diamond told NPR that Mallinger, the oldest victim of Saturday’s shooting, had a youthful spirit.
“[Mallinger] was in her 90s, but she was one of the younger ones among us, I have to tell you, in terms of her spirit,” he said. “Rose was wonderful.”
A old picture shared on Facebook by her daughter, Lauren, showed a tiny, beaming Rose towered over by her three grandchildren.
Robin Friedman told CNN that Mallinger had worked as a secretary in her school’s office many years ago. She described her as “spry” and “vibrant.”
“She had a lot of years left,” the friend said.
Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township Richard Gottfried was a dentist who started a practice with his wife in 1984. He had graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1974. Gottfried was also an avid runner who competed in the Pittsburgh Great Race some 28 times.
Gottfried went to synagogue each Saturday, and was a committed member to the New Light Congregation, according to the Associated Press. The co-president of New Light, Stephen Cohen, told the outlet that Gottfried, Wax, and Stein were the “religious heart of our congregation.”
“They led the service, they maintained the Torah, they did what needed to be done with the rabbi to make services happen,” Cohen said.
“My uncle was murdered doing what he loved, praying to G-D,” Richard’s nephew, Jacob Gottfried, wrote on Twitter. “I don’t want to live in a world where I must fear to live as a Jew.”
Bernice Simon, 84, and Sylvan Simon, 86 of Wilkinsburg Known fondly by friends and neighbors as “Syl and Bernice,” the sweet, “down-to-earth” couple were together for more than 53 years. They first announced their engagement in April 1965, according to the Tribune Review and newspaper accounts.
When one of the couple’s sons, Martin, died in a motorcycle accident in 2010 at age 48, the family asked for contributions in his memory to be made to the Tree of Life.
Bernice liked to bake cranberry breads and the couple had a pug named Max, one neighbor said. They always held hands and smiled, Heather Graham, who lived next door, told the Tribune .
“He would open the door for her, all those things that you want from another person,” she said. “They were really generous and nice to everybody. It’s just horrific.”
Irving Younger, 69, of Mt. Washington, City of Pittsburgh Irving Younger ran a real estate company in Squirrel Hill for many years, and also volunteered as a youth baseball coach, the Tribune Review reported.
Tina Prizner, who lived next to Younger, told the paper that Younger was a “wonderful dad and grandpa.”
“He talked about his daughter and his grandson, always, and he never had an unkind word to say about anybody,” she said.
He was incredibly passionate about his Jewish faith. “He went every day. He was an usher at his synagogue, and he never missed a day,” Prizner said. “He’d come home, maybe grab a bite to eat and go back again.”
She called him very “kind” and said that he was a “beautiful” human being.
“He was a beautiful person, a beautiful soul,” she said.