The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 28, 2014

Student suspected in fatal stabbing under evaluation

By Cindy Carcamo
Los Angeles Times

— A teenage boy suspected of fatally stabbing his high school classmate at a Connecticut high school just hours before the junior prom is under psychiatric evaluation, the teen’s lawyer said Saturday.

At the same time, friends of stabbing victim Maren Sanchez mourned her death, sharing memories of a girl they described as an outgoing teen who served as something of a “counselor” for many students and was known for heartfelt chats by her locker.

The 16-year-old boy, whose name is being withheld because of his age, will not be in court during Monday’s scheduled arraignment, said his attorney, Edward J. Gavin.

The boy was charged as a juvenile with murder. It’s unclear whether he will be tried as an adult, although Connecticut law allows minors to be tried as adults in some serious crimes.

The attack happened Friday, the same day another 16-year-old boy was arraigned on 21 counts of attempted homicide and 21 counts of aggravated assault in the April 9 stabbing rampage at a high school in Murrysville, Pa.

Sanchez was an athlete and singer who enjoyed acting and was part of the National Honor Society, friends and school officials have said.

Imani Langston, who described herself as Sanchez’s best friend, said Sanchez was friends with the suspect, but had a boyfriend she was going to accompany to the prom that night.

The attack occurred about 7:15 a.m. in a hallway inside Jonathan Law High School in Milford.

Langston said teachers told her that as Sanchez lay on the floor bleeding, she said she had rejected the suspect’s offer to take her to prom.

Just the day before, Langston said, Sanchez had shared pictures with her of the long blue dress she’d picked out for the event.

Another friend, Nelson Vazquez, described San-chez as the “sweetest girl ever.”

“She had the biggest heart and gave the best hugs,” Vazquez, 16, said. “Whatever came out of her mouth was always positive and good.”

Vazquez said that he would turn to her when he needed advice and she always gave the best guidance.

The teen, who struggled to lose weight, starved himself at one point out of desperation. Sanchez, he said, took notice, worried and forced him to eat at least a granola bar whenever she saw him.

“She wanted me to be OK,” Vazquez said. He said he will most miss the chats they had near her locker.

He was so upset by his friend’s death, Vazquez said, that he couldn’t bring himself to attend a ceremony in her honor Friday evening.

Langston said about 80 people attended, some of them in the dresses and tuxedos they would have worn to the prom. They formed a circle and cried on each other’s shoulders.

“We shouted out what we thought of Maren in two words or less,” she said.

Some of what was said? Beautiful. Great smile. Great personality.

Sanchez’s mother attended. The group placed rocks in a heart formation on the beach and lighted candles in the middle. They even took a group photograph with Sanchez’s blue prom dress.

Vazquez said that although she is gone physically, Sanchez will remain a strong presence in his life.

“She’s not gone,” he said.

And he will always picture her, he said, as she was at school. Next to her locker. Ready for a chat.