IU community gathers to honor life of late Kelly Hackendahl

Cause of 20-year-old's death still unknown



Audio slide show of the vigil honoring the life of Kelly Hackendahl.  Abby Llorico and Bari Goldman and Ben Mikesell and Ike Hajinazarian and Leah Johnson

On a Bloomington Thursday night, a ?reverent silence falls.

The moon is not quite full. Its edges fade in a dark blue sky. Two police riding bicycles with red flashing lights guide the sisters and brothers coming out of the greek houses on Fishers Court.

They've begun to come together.

At first, it’s an amorphous shape of people — but as soon as they pass the first house on Jordan Avenue, a column begins to form.

People gathered at the candle light vigil Thursday for the late Kelly Hackendahl. The 20-year-old junior was found dead in the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority last Thursday. Her cause of death remains unknown, although no foul play is suspected.

Chapters line up outside their houses. They chat, waiting for the line to pass so they can join the march south toward Showalter Fountain. Smaller lines outside the houses flow into the larger group like tributaries into a giant river.

The column grows longer and longer. Further south, lines begin to form on both sides of the street, overtaking the sidewalks of ?Jordan Avenue.

“People walking up this road will be like ‘Woah,’” a brother comments.

And they are. Unsuspecting bystanders stare as people, hundreds of people, flow by. People in tees and basketball shorts and dresses and billboard letter shirts.

“It’s absolutely beautiful,” a sister says.

But when the line reaches Zeta Tau Alpha, both sides stop. They let the Zeta sisters, all in blue shirts, join at the very front. In front of their house hangs a banner:

“You Rock. Don’t Ever Change.”

***

At the vigil, the air is sticky as the group begins to encircle Showalter Fountain. It is exactly 9:30 p.m. People dart between the Fox 59 truck and a bed of flowers.

They fill in the entire front of the steps before the IU Auditorium and all around the fountain itself. The water thunders amid the silence.

People funnel in at a constant rate until 9:45 p.m.

Everyone is cast in yellow from the auditorium lamps. Shivering dots of candlelight line the very front of the ?auditorium plaza.

The vigil was organized completely by the Panhellenic Association and the students themselves, said Mark Land, vice president of IU communications , who was present at the event.

“It’s really moving,” he said. “Very emotional. But very heartening to see.”

Not just the greek community is here, he said. Union Board and other groups made a showing too.

Sound is absorbed by the group of people and, even though no one is talking, it is hard to hear in the back. As soon as everyone is in position, the sisters of Zeta, one by one, begin to speak.

Darcy Patterson was one of those sisters. She spoke about the big things — that Kelly was Catholic and wanted to be a government teacher.

That every day together was the best day. That every day, they told each other how much they loved each other.

But it was also the small things: Kelly’s tie-dye pants, her aversion to any pinch of pepper seasoning in food.

Life in Bloomington still moves. Cars blast hip hop and some cars honk. A train rumbles mournfully in the background.

People still have their legs up on the wall of the IU Art Museum, still meander home.

A theme that many of the sisters repeat is that, even though Kelly has left them, she hasn’t really left them. She is alive, all around, like the wind — everywhere, Darcy says. Intangible but absolutely there.

“My name is Darcy Patterson,” she said, “and Kelly was my soulmate.”

A Light for Kelly

A Light for Kelly | View Full Gallery

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