WEST CHESTER, Ohio – Ellie Weik’s family and friends celebrated her life Sunday by releasing hundreds of colorful balloons that reflected her personality – from smiley faces to tie-dye, her favorite.
"We just wanted to bring some color back into all the darkness,” said Angela LaScalea, who went to school with Weik.
“You met her and couldn’t help but love her. She was just filled with so much joy and laughter and happiness. She was just an amazing person overall,” LaScalea said.
Weik, 23, was reported missing on Aug. 1. Her body was found in a Liberty Township field three weeks later. Michael Strouse, 29, was arrested and charged with murder.
“Light person,” said Tera Koons, a friend of Weik. “You never saw her upset. She would check on people, ask how they were doing, how their life was. She always cared about other people.”
Her friends remembered the good times.
“Only girl I’ve ever met who could pull off neon yellow lipstick,” LaScalea said.
More than 100 people gathered at Keehner Park with one thing on their mind.
“Just a release,” said Mira Trombetta, a schoolmate of Weik. “I think the balloons are symbolic to releasing the tension and built-up frustration of the past. We’re just releasing it and letting it go.”
Nathan Weik, a cousin, thanked everyone for remembering Ellie.
“We just wanted to say thank you. We’re a private family. A heartfelt thank you. All the prayers, the ribbons for Ellie, the balloons sent off today, it doesn’t go unnoticed,” he said.
He called the balloon release a "very sweet moment" and "beautiful" but "it was still heartbreaking.”
“I don’t think closure will ever come, to be honest,” Nathan Weik said. “It’s something that gets easier to manage on a day-to-day basis, but there will never be closure. Ellie is a part of this family and always will be part of this family. We’ll see her again. We know that. It’ll just be a long break till we see her again.”