NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. (AP) — Purple ribbons drawing attention to domestic violence draped trees outside St. John the Evangelist Church on Thursday while inside hundreds of people attended the funeral of a college freshman who authorities say was beaten to death by her boyfriend.
Relatives of 18-year-old Alexandra Kogut of New Hartford said the community support, which has been evident in vigils, signs and an outpouring of purple, has sustained them.
"Every purple blouse, ribbon, Facebook post, balloon and even the tiniest purple painted fingernail reminds us of our dear Alex," read a funeral program note signed by the Kogut family.
Kogut's body was found early Saturday in her dorm room at the State University of New York College at Brockport, near Rochester, after her mother called campus police concerned because she couldn't reach her.
Twenty-one-year-old Clayton Whittemore, also of New Hartford, was arrested about an hour later at a Thruway rest stop 100 miles away. He pleaded not guilty to murder during an initial appearance in Sweden Town Court and was ordered held without bail.
Whittemore has yet to be arraigned on charges contained in a grand jury indictment returned Wednesday. Details of the indictment were not immediately made public.
Members of the New Hartford High School swim team, which Kogut captained before graduating in June, wiped tears away as they entered the church behind the casket.
The Rev. Paul Drobin said that if Alex were there, she would tell those gathered, "Care for each other, love one another as I have loved you."
Kogut was one month into her first year away at college, majoring in communications, when authorities say she was killed during a visit by Whittemore, an accounting student at Utica College. Whittemore told state troopers he intentionally killed Kogut, according to a criminal complaint. No motive was given.