McKenzie Fisk met Annie Le when the two were at the University of Rochester in upstate New York.
"Annie made you feel like you were a good person and a good friend," Fisk said. "She was always excited for you when something good happened in your life."
Something good was supposed to happen in Le's life too. The 24-year-old and her fiancé Jonathan Widawsky were to wed on Sept. 13. That never happened. Instead, Le's body was found stuffed behind a wall of the Yale laboratory building where she worked.
Le and Widawsky met in college. Fisk was friends with them both.
"Annie was meant to be with Jon," Fisk said. "It was almost like they had this secret no one else knew about and something that couldn't have been shared with anyone else because they had such a strong connection."
"This wedding was everything to Annie," she added.
Fisk went on to say that Le's research in stem cell development would have greatly contributed to her field. "She would've been such a star in this field. This is a huge loss not only for everyone who knew her but for the medical field as well."
"I just really appreciated everything she did for me. I hope that she sees how much people loved her, how sad we are that she is gone," Fisk said.
Jennifer Simpson and Annie Le met in 2006 at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Undergraduate Scholarship Program (UGSP). They were in the same group. During those three months at NIH, the two ate meals daily with one another and went out at night together. The two stayed friends since meeting, and Simpson said, "We had a really strong bond throughout the years."
"Annie was upbeat and very friendly. She was passionate about her work and about the greater good for people and the community," Simpson said.
Simpson described her friend as a fun-loving woman who was immersed in her work and social life equally. "She was a child at heart. She enjoyed life. She was adventurous. She was passionate about her work but she also wanted to have fun. She always had time for her friends."
Le's passion was stem cells and how they might be applied to cure muscular degenerative diseases. She wanted to be part of a team that figured out how to use stem cell research for other's benefit, Simpson said.
Simpson, who is currently in California, said that her friend's murder is "a huge mystery." She thinks Le's killer must have been an acquaintance who misread her friendly demeanor. "She's so likable and lovable. Perhaps this person took her kindness in the wrong way and overstepped his boundaries."
"Annie you are certainly a beautiful person. You will truly be missed. Our hearts go out to you and your family. Please now you will always be in our thoughts and prayers. You have been inspiration and you will remain in our hearts forever," Simpson said as a final goodbye to her dear friend.
Candice Morland also met Annie Le at the NIH UGSP, and the two studied there for two years together. "She was the first person I met … and she was so kind," she said.
Morland had married on the same date that Le had planned her wedding. Le once told her it was "a lucky day."
"She and Jon were made for each other, and she was so excited to finally be marrying him," Moreland said.
Mordland and Le were not always in close contact over the years, but they had spoken not long ago about Le's upcoming wedding.
"Annie was one of the sweetest people I've met, and she didn't deserve this. She was making a difference in the world, and had a genuine desire to make a change for the better," Moreland said. "She had so much to offer this world, and I can only hope the best for Jon and her family. … She will live on in my heart and all those she touched."
"I know now that she is in a better place."
Story produced by Will Goodman, Neil Katz, and Edecio Martinez
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