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Mathew Gregory Gwaltney

Matthew Gwaltney, 24, was on the brink of finishing his graduate degree and was planning to return to his hometown for a new job and to be near his parents.

He was a master's student in civil and environmental engineering and was attending Virginia Tech on a fellowship, according to his father, Greg Gwaltney, of Chester, near Richmond.

"Matt came home Thursday night. He had an interview in Richmond Friday morning, and we got to have dinner with him," said Linda Gwaltney, his stepmother. "He went back to school Friday after his interview."

It was the last time they saw their only child.

Gwaltney had been the school newspaper's sports editor and named "Best guy to take home to your parents," his high school principal, Robert Stansberry, said.

At Virginia Tech, where also earned his undergraduate degree, his favorite place was Cassell Coliseum, his parents said.

"He went to every women's and men's basketball game, and went to every football game," Linda Gwaltney said. "If there was a football game, we knew he wasn't coming home that weekend."

In a message to, Paul Lamborn wrote that Gwaltney "was passionate about life and got everything he could out of anything that he did."