A woman, who offered only her first name, Rose, wipes away a tear during a Saturday evening candlelight vigil for Linda Sweezer at Burlington Green Park. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Grieving family, friends remember a ‘wonderful spirit’

Community holds vigil for Kent woman who was killed in her East Hill home

Shocked and devastated family and friends came together Saturday evening in story, song and prayer to remember a woman who gave much of herself to help others in the Kent community.

Linda Sweezer was “a special soul, a wonderful spirit, a compassionate human being … someone who reached beyond herself to help others, someone who encouraged others to help others,” said Gwen Allen-Carston, a friend, colleague and executive director of the Kent Black Action Commission (KBAC).

“She was a very proud resident of the city of Kent,” Allen-Carston told a crowd huddled for a KBAC-led candlelight vigil to honor the late woman at Burlington Green Park. “She believed in folks getting along here in this city of Kent.”

Sweezer, 64, was killed earlier in the week – strangled to death, according to authorities – in her East Hill home. Her body was found early Tuesday morning along a road near Lake Tapps in Pierce County.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department arrested one man for investigation of second-degree murder. Detectives are looking for a second suspect.

Active in her cul-de sac-shaped neighborhood and wider community, Sweezer joined KBAC – a small grassroots group working to shape, support and advance conditions of the African-American community – several years ago.

She was a smiling, warm personality who helped coordinate events, including KBAC’s annual Juneteenth Celebration and Festival at Morrill Meadows Park.

Sweezer believed in harmony, faith, family, hard work and good causes, friends said.

As Allen-Carston pointed out, Sweezer made and hung a banner in her neighborhood that said, “Love thy neighbor, no excuses.”

Her loss, as one friend described at the vigil, is “a punch to the gut.”

Another friend recalled how she and her infectious smile “lit up” those around her.

Sweezer’s tragic death left others angry, calling for an end to the senseless violence.

“I am so mad that somebody could do that to her,” said Richard Johnson, a KBAC board member in charge of marketing and media relations.

“… You criminals want to pounce upon our women, it ain’t going to happen,” he added. “I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of it … these criminals tearing lives apart, robbing us of our treasure, which was Linda.”

Ex-husband Larry Sweezer, accompanied by family and supporters, thanked those who came out to express their sorrow at the vigil.

“The family, Linda’s mom and sister (who live in the Flint, Mich., area) are devastated,” he said. “We are all devastated.”

Linda Sweezer left behind a family, who said she was in the process of adopting her 4-month-old granddaughter.

KBAC is organizing an account on its website and Facebook page to help the family.

Linda Sweezer’s former husband, Larry Sweezer, accompanied by family and supporters, thanked those who came out to pray and express their sorrow at the vigil. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

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