Heidi Hubrecht wore a smile wreathed in bright red lipstick, her frame draped in a leather jacket.
Remembering Hubrecht at her happiest was the focus of a vigil Thursday night at Shoreline Park in Santa Barbara. Her death earlier this month shocked the community and still has friends and family grappling for an explanation.
Emotions were raw as several people close to her shared from their hearts as the sun set over the park.
Hubrecht was killed April 13 in what investigators believe was a murder-suicide involving her former boyfriend, Luis Avila DeDios, 23, of Goleta.
Investigators believe DeDios was waiting for Hubrecht inside her apartment on Camino De Vida near San Marcos High School, and that he attacked her and her 21-year-old roommate with a hunting knife when they arrived home early that morning.
DeDios allegedly then turned the knife on himself. Deputies found the two bodies on the upstairs landing outside the apartment Hubrecht shared with two female roommates.
But even as the struggle continues for those who knew her, laughter and poignant memories of Hubrecht were also shared Thursday.
Bree Medley, one of the Brawlin’ Betties, recalled skating with Hubrecht.
“From the first time I met her, I could see a spark,” she said.
Last Saturday, the Betties were about to face off against opponents in Ventura County when the teams paused to reflect. A moment of silence was held, and then, one by one, each player took a knee for Hubrecht.
“It’s what we do when one of the girls goes down,” Medley told Noozhawk. “It was so cathartic for us.”
Many held candles in Hubrecht’s honor.
“It’s hard to get the words out in the midst of the anger we’re all feeling,” said Medley, adding that support from the team and the community has been invaluable.
Hubrecht graduated from UCSB last year with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and recently became a teacher at Education First Santa Barbara.
“She was just colorful and creative and easy-going,” co-worker Ellen Savaria recalled.
The pair began working together at Education First in January. Savaria was with Hubrecht the day before she died, and that Friday morning recalled feeling a shift. Placing her hand over her heart, Savaria remembered the words that came shortly after.
“I looked at my roommate and said, ‘Somebody has died,’” she said.
At first, Savaria said she thought it had been someone in her family, but later learned it was Hubrecht.
“It was almost as if I felt her lift off,” she said. “It was very intuitive and very profound.”
Three of Hubrecht’s cousins attended Thursday’s vigil and thanked the group for coming together.
“We really appreciate that you took care of her while she was here,” one said, through tears.
Hubrecht had moved to the area from Lake Elsinore in 2006 to attend UCSB.
“We want people to know that help is out there,” SBRN’s Jina Carvalho said.
In closing, Medley encouraged those present to approach life with fearlessness.
“All we can do is live a little extra for her,” she said. “And maybe throw on some red lipstick.”