Brookliners Hold Vigil to Remember Slain Baldwin Woman

Friends of Karissa Kunco gathered in her home neighborhood on Thursday night—just hours after her death—to remember her.

The usually bustling intersection near the on Brookline Boulevard (near "The Cannon" memorial park) was quiet on Thursday night, as a crowd gathered to honor a lost friend. 

"People say things about smiles that light up rooms, but it's the truth with her," said Tom Pisano, a former softball coach of Karissa Kunco's, the woman who went and was .

Kunco, a 21-year-old native of Pittsburgh's Brookline neighborhood, was remembered in an impromptu candlelight vigil held by friends just hours after news of her death was made public.

, for questioning in connection with her death. As of late Thursday night, he has not been found.

News of Kunco's death hit the tight-knit Brookline community hard.

"Honestly, growing up in Brookline, it really was like growing up in one huge family," said Kunco's childhood friend and softball teammate, Ashley Berkich. "She was very family-oriented and very close with her friends."

Kunco most recently lived in Baldwin Borough with her father, but several people who attended the Brookline vigil had known her for most of her life. And most weren't ready to talk about the tragedy.

Pisano joined dozens of others in arranging candles and flowers around the cannon monument outside the church. He said that he was mainly there to support Kunco's friends, many of whom he had coached in softball.

"I want the attention to be on them and on her and her family," Pisano said. "This is the first time anything like this happened for this group of kids. They're all in shock right now."

Mona Beveridge and Dan Kohr, who grew up with Kunco's mother in Brookline, said that it's the first time that anything like this has happened in their community.

Beveridge's daughters were friends with Kunco. Kohr said that Kunco's grandfather was like a second father to him when he was growing up in Brookline.

"We're born-and-raised Brookliners," Beveridge said. "This is our worst nightmare. This is every parent's worst nightmare. I can't imagine what her family feels. My heart aches for them."

Pisano's wife, Melinda, said that she hopes that the vigil will help Kunco be seen as a person rather than as a story on the news. She was a wonderful person to those who knew her, and losing her truly is tragic, she said.

Berkich said that the vigil is just one part of what will no doubt be a very long and difficult healing process.

She described Kunco as a phenomenal person, caring and kind, who would always be missed by her friends.

"It's really hard for this community," she said. "This is the first step. All we can do is just be strong for her and her family."

This article originally appeared on the .


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