As the sun set over Ithaca College last night — ending the fourth long and emotion-filled day since freshman William Jacobson went missing — the I.C. community held a candlelit vigil. Jacobson was found dead yesterday morning when New York State Police found his body in a pond on Farm Road within the college’s campus.
The Ithaca Police Department and other authorities are currently investigating the case, I.C. President Peggy Williams wrote in a statement on the I.C. website.
Since Jacobson’s body was pulled from eight feet under the pond this morning, police have since ruled out foul play as a cause of his death and are continuing to investigate, according to The Ithacan, I.C.’s newspaper. They said that no marks were found on his body and the lake was along the same route he would normally take walking home.[img_assist|nid=30405|title=In memoriam|desc=Members of the Ithaca College community gather on I.C.’s campus to remember and celebrate the life of William Jacobson.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The vigil, which was held at Muller Chapel, was filled with tears, prayers, memories and long silences as those close to Jacobson recounted the stories of his life.
“I couldn’t believe he was one of my peers,” one student remarked amid a sea of candles lit in Jacobson’s memory. “I felt so privileged to have spent time with him.”
Students, professors, staff, administrators, friends and family members filled the entire chapel, with many pouring out the door and around the side of the building. Speakers were set up so that all could hear about a student who had no shortage of people to say good things about him.
“I did not know Willie that well, and I am so sorry for that,” said Simeon Landau, a freshman classmate of his. “I did not have time to get to know him, but I thought there would be three more years for that.”
Jacobson was last seen returning from a party on Grandview Ave. at about 3:30 Sunday morning. When he had not returned home by Monday afternoon, his friends set out to find him. They posted flyers throughout Ithaca, hitting Cornell’s campus and Collegetown. They also created a Facebook group and personally searched the woods around I.C. Local and state police began their investigation on Monday evening.
Since Jacobson’s body was found, the I.C. campus has been emotionally shaken up.
“Events like this are always difficult for a small campus, but the benefit of a being on a small campus is that we all pull together at times like this,” said James Boodley, associate chaplain with the protestant community at Ithaca College.
The vigil brought to light the way many have felt since news of his death broke — from the girl who used to sit with him on the school bus in high school to the professor who depended on him to liven up conversation.
“We all grieve the loss of this bright young man — an incredibly talented student with many close friends and so much potential,” Williams stated. “The loss of a student who had so much to contribute becomes a loss, not just for the campus community but for all who knew him.”