WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Hundreds of candles burned bright at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception church in Waterbury on Thursday night to honor the lives of those lost.
The candles and luminaries were part of a Mass of Remembrance that was held by Father Jim Sullivan.
The service came two days after the body of Janet Avalo-Alvarez was found in a wooded area of Wolcott.
“I still can’t wrap my head around this right now,” said Branden Santo. “What do you remember about her? How are you going to celebrate her? How happy she always was. She never not had a smile on her face.”
Sullivan told News 8 that wanted the mass to bring the community a sense of comfort.
Police said Avalo-Alvarez’s boyfriend, Alfredo Peguero-Gomez, is the main suspect in her death. He has left the state and police are currently working with U.S. Marshalls Service to find him.
While the couple did not report any prior domestic violence incidents, the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) is reminding people to speak up.
“This most recent domestic violence homicide makes number 10 [this year] that is confirmed here in the state of Connecticut we also know there are others,” said CCADV’s Karen Jarmoc.
The organization recently launched CTSafeConnect — a platform that allows victims, or anyone else, anonymously call, text, live chat, or email a domestic violence advocate 24 hours a day.
At the Mass of Remembrance, people aimed to help loved ones heal by focusing on the light people like Avalo-Alvarez brought to their communities.
“No matter what she was going through she always made sure she was capable of putting a smile on someone else’s face.
She was a true believer in God.”– Leysha, friend to Janet Avaro-Alvarez
Leysha said that she appreciated everything the church is doing for Avalo-Alvarez’s loved ones.