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In Milford, the sadness of loss settles

Updated 9:08 am, Monday, April 28, 2014

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  • Jonathan Law High School baseball player Kurt Holden holds a sign in memory of classmate Maren Sanchez as he walked with his teammates in her honor at the annual In Your Shoes event at Lisman Landing in downtown Milford, Conn. on Sunday, April 27, 2014. Photo: Brian A. Pounds / Connecticut Post
    Jonathan Law High School baseball player Kurt Holden holds a sign in memory of classmate Maren Sanchez as he walked with his teammates in her honor at the annual In Your Shoes event at Lisman Landing in downtown Milford, Conn. on Sunday, April 27, 2014. Photo: Brian A. Pounds

 

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Classes canceled
There will be no classes Monday at Jonathan Law High School, but the school will remain open for students and staff.
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MILFORD -- Wearing women's shoes with a sequined "M" on one foot and "S" on the other, Jonathan Law High School senior Kurt Holden said being part of the annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes march took on a new significance.

He was walking Sunday to raise awareness of violence against all women, but also for 16-year-old Maren Sanchez, a friend who was brutally killed Friday morning in a school hallway.

"It's sunk in a little bit," Holden said. The reality of her death, he said, was getting a little harder, not easier, with each passing day.

School, Holden said, had changed forever.

Jonathan Law High school continued to be open Sunday for students and staff who needed someone to talk to. Grief counselors were on hand and groups of students came in and out of the school all day. A large rock that had been painted purple by students on Friday afternoon in Sanchez's memory was now buried under a growing mound of flowers, candles and balloons.

A sign at the foot of the driveway to the school warned media to stay away.

Sanchez was attacked at school early Friday morning, stabbed and slashed to death, allegedly by a classmate who has been identified by sources as 16-year-old Christopher Plaskon. Sanchez had reportedly turned down Plaskon's invitation to be his date for the junior prom, which was to have been Friday night.

Sanchez died of wounds to her torso and neck, Connecticut's chief medical examiner's office said Sunday, as it ruled her death a homicide.

Police have not confirmed the role of a prom invitation in Sanchez's death.

While Plaskon's lawyers have not named him as the suspect, Hearst Connecticut Media is identifying the teen because of the high profile of the crime and his identity being widely known to the community.

Attorneys Richard Meehan and Edward Gavin, of Bridgeport, did say over the weekend that their client was being held in a psychiatric setting and would not be present for his court appearance Monday. Plaskon's arraignment is scheduled to take place at New Haven Juvenile Court, Meehan confirmed Sunday. The teen will likely face adult charges.

"The usual process is, once presented at juvenile court, the state will ask the court to transfer the case to the adult docket," Meehan said. "We anticipate that will happen and be granted."

At Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, which started at Lisman Landing and wound around the area of the town green, Holden was among about two dozen members of the Jonathan Law varsity, junior varsity and freshman baseball teams who wore their uniforms and carried a poster with Maren's picture on it as they raised money in support of the Rape Crisis Center in Milford.

The walk, while centered on a serious theme, is generally lighthearted -- as men amble awkwardly in high-heels and other traditionally female clothes.

Sunday's event had a more somber feel.

"This cause hits home -- this week in particular," Milford Mayor Ben Blake told the crowd of at least 500 participants and volunteers. "Last Friday, we lost a member of our community to a senseless act of violence."

Blake described Sanchez as a terrific person, an example of what the community wants in its youth.

"Our thoughts, my thoughts and prayers go out to her family, " he said, before the walk kicked off with a moment of silence in Sanchez's memory.

Near the Plaskons' home, a neighbor who came to the door of a condominium Sunday said the family was "not where anyone can find them right now."

The neighbor, who declined to give her name, described the Plaskons as a wonderful, lovely family.

"The kids were as nice as could be, polite as could be," she said. There are five boys in the family, with Chris being the middle child, the neighbor confirmed. She said she never heard them argue.

"They were just a nice group of guys," she said, and called what happened at Law High Friday morning a shock and a tragedy.

Lori Holden, whose son participated in the march against violence, agreed.

"It was a trying day," Lori Holden said.

Although Kurt Holden is a senior, he would have been at the junior prom Friday with his date, who was a classmate of Sanchez and one of her best friends, he said.

Holden said he did not know Plaskon very well.

Jimmy Palmer, another Law senior who walked on Sunday for Sanchez, called her a "great person." Sanchez helped manage a number of sports teams at Jonathan Law, but baseball was not one of them, the players said.

"She was always happy, had a great personality and was just always fun to be around," Palmer said.

He said classmates all seemed to still be in shock over what happened.

"It's tough, but we're all hanging in there," Palmer said.

The Cody-White Funeral Home in Milford is in charge of Sanchez's funeral arrangements. An announcement on the home's website said information about services would be released Monday afternoon. There is also a vigil for Sanchez planned for Monday at 7 p.m., on the school football field.

There will be no classes Monday at Law, but the school will remain open for students and staff.

"We're still going to be with everyone," Kurt Holden said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.