The funeral for Jenni-Lyn Watson was held on Wednesday, Dec. 1 at St. Margaret’s Church in Mattydale, N.Y. Police found the 20-year-old Liverpool native on Saturday after eight days of searching. It is believed that her ex-boyfriend, Steven Pieper, who has been arrested, killed Watson.
Her death has affected the entire Central New York community, including Oswego State, where many Liverpool High School alumni attend. Oswego State students remember her as a beautiful dancer and friend, who will truly be missed.
"Jenni represents all the great aspects of Liverpool, and because of her golden spirit, and the love that so many hold for her, she will unite Liverpool closer than we ever have been," said Joe Manganiello, a freshman at Oswego State and Liverpool High School grad.
Watson was a 2008 graduate of Liverpool High School and was attending Mercyhurst College for dance. All accounts say that she was a very talented ballerina and Mercyhurst has established a scholarship for dance in her memory.
"I knew Jenni as a gentle, intelligent, life-loving young lady who just wanted to dance," Oswego State senior Jonathon Bee said in a public statement. "She always had a smile on her face and was always kind to me."
Bee developed and is webmaster of the website dedicated first to finding Jenni-Lyn, and then later remembering her. The site has become hugely popular because it is the only place with all the information pertaining to Jenni-Lyn. Since the site was created last Monday night, there have been over 80,000 views.
"I have dedicated a lot of time to her," Bee said. "I don’t regret a minute of it."
The site has changed over from "Finding Jenni-Lyn" to "Remembering Jenni-Lyn," and includes pictures, a guest book, all news articles published about her and every piece of relevant information available. This includes pictures of Piepers VW, which was allegedly used to transport the body of Watson from her parent’s house to the location where she was found.
The Post-Standard quotes friends saying that the relationship was "mentally abusive and that Pieper was controlling.
"My heart goes out to the family, especially as a mother," said Michelle Sloan, health promotion coordinator at Lifestyles. "It’s sad. There’s no reason for it. There’s never a reason for someone to hurt someone else."
Signs of abusive relationships include one person isolating another from friends, family and outside involvement. There can be physical violence, coercion, intimidation and threats.
"Men can be victims," Sloan said. "So can people in same-sex relationships. A person should never intimidate another person, or degrade another person."
Sloan said that if students are on campus are being abused, or do not feel safe, they should seek outside help from University Police or SAFE, which will help students get away from abusive relationships. Other resources Oswego State students have are Two and a Half, Women’s Center and Counseling Services.
But for Watson, the focus remains on remembering and honoring her memory, and making sure justice is served.
"She was 20 years old, beautiful, young and innocent," Manganiello said. "People like her are not supposed to die, let alone be murdered."