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Friends remember St. Petersburg murder victim at vigil

ST. PETERSBURG — The rain broke Friday night just long enough for about 100 people to light candles outside the home of Paula Witthaus, 54, where she lived with James Rapp, 67, and where the two were found earlier this week murdered.

"She was well-loved, as you can see," said Chuck Terzian, motioning at the crowd. Police called their deaths "particularly brutal."

And those who knew Witthaus through her community activism strained to connect such a violent act with the woman who took in animals and people like they were family.

Friends, mentors and those moved by her energy shared stories of her youthful presence, and as the rain strengthened they continued to talk under umbrellas.

Safiyyah Ameer, 10, holds a candle in memory of Paula Witthaus, 54, and her roommate, James Rapp, 67, who were murdered this week. A vigil drew about 100 people Friday outside Witthaus’ home in St. Petersburg. People who knew Witthaus through her community activism strained to connect such a violent act with the woman who took in animals and people as if they were family. “She was well-loved, as you can see,” said Chuck Terzian, motioning at the crowd. Police called their deaths “particularly brutal.”

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

Safiyyah Ameer, 10, holds a candle in memory of Paula Witthaus, 54, and her roommate, James Rapp, 67, who were murdered this week. A vigil drew about 100 people Friday outside Witthaus’ home in St. Petersburg. People who knew Witthaus through her community activism strained to connect such a violent act with the woman who took in animals and people as if they were family. “She was well-loved, as you can see,” said Chuck Terzian, motioning at the crowd. Police called their deaths “particularly brutal.”

Friends remember St. Petersburg murder victim at vigil 01/31/14 [Last modified: Saturday, February 1, 2014 11:23am]

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