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Family holds vigil in Westminster park to remember homicide victim

About 100 people holding candles gathered around the pavilions in Westminster City Park on Friday night as they remembered Kandi Gerber, who was killed Aug. 8. (Heather Mongilio / Carroll County Times)

About 100 people holding candles gathered around the pavilions in Westminster City Park on Friday night as they remembered Kandi Gerber, who was killed Aug. 8.

Kandi Gerber's sister, Christie Gerber; mother, Cindy Saffell; and daughter, Kaeleigh, hugged one another and shared stories about their times with Kandi. She was described as a fun person with an infectious smile and a person who tried to help others.

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"Aside from the fact that she absolutely loved dogs, she struggled with addiction for a while and overcame it. But no matter how bad it ever was for her, she would have given the shirt off her back to somebody. And if it didn't fit, she would have tailored it," Christie Gerber said before the vigil.

Christie Gerber described her sister as someone who loved music, and they often went to concerts together. One of her favorite moments with her sister was on the drive to her daughter's first rock concert. "Bohemian Rhapsody" came on, and the two sisters re-created the scene from "Wayne's World," video and all, she said.

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Tammy Keith Bateman, of Finksburg, said she would go to concerts with Kandi Gerber, and Saffell said Kandi Gerber loved to go to concerts with her sister and niece, Abigail.

Kandi Gerber loved the beach, her mom said. She also loved dogs, and she had two pit bulls, her sister said.

"She was famous for dying her hair different color and standing out in a crowd," Christie Gerber said.

As a child, Kandi Gerber was mischievous, Saffell said.

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"She was so funny," she said. "She used to play tricks on all of us."

Looking back on their childhood, Christie Gerber said she remembers a food fight that Kandi Gerber started with a handful of peas.

"I have so many [memories]. I just have so many. Probably of the one time we had a food fight when we were little. Kandi was a baby and she started it. And our parents didn't believe us [Christie Gerber and her sister Rebecca Steube] for a long time because she was a baby," Christie Gerber said.

She also remembered Kandi Gerber randomly dancing.

"We would be in the middle of the store, and she would start dancing in the aisles," Christie Gerber said.

And while she had her pranks, Saffell said Kandi Gerber was also a very caring person, saying she has memories of Kandi going out of her way to help others.

"I have several memories of her, actually. I think one of the sweetest is when I was sick at one time and she made me a huge 'Get Well' card," Saffell said.

Saffell also recalled when Kandi Gerber played tee-ball. She was at bat and all the kids were supposed to back up. They didn't back up far enough, and when Kandi Gerber hit the ball, she hit it right into the pitcher and knocked the boy down. Before running the bases, Kandi Gerber went over to make sure he was OK. Then she ran the bases and came back again to check on him, Saffell said.

Her acts of kindness stuck out to her friends as well. During the vigil, some people stood up to share a story of Kandi Gerber helping them or doing something kind.

Elizabeth Smith, of Westminster, was at the vigil and said in an interview that Kandi Gerber always tried to help people.

Smith said Kandi Gerber loved her children and family, had a great smile, and was a loving person. She came out to the vigil primarily to help support Kandi Gerber's family.

While Kandi Gerber's death was not talked about very much during the vigil, a person who said a prayer for the family told the attendees that he had lost two family members in a similar way. In front of a large picture made of smaller pictures of Kandi Gerber were fliers from Family and Children's Services about domestic violence.

"And we will never forget her, and we will fight for justice for Kandi," Smith said.

Like Smith, others talked about Kandi Gerber's smile.

"She's always been amazingly fun," Bateman said. "The smile you never forget."

Christie Gerber said that Kandi Gerber was close with her nieces, especially Abigail, and her nephew, Zachary.

"You know, my kids just loved her so much," Christie Gerber said.

She also loved spending time with her own children, Andrew, 17, and Kaeleigh, 9, Saffell said.

Zachary said he remembers talking with Kandi Gerber. They would have conversations while he played video games.

"I liked hanging out with her while my mother was around," he said.

Kaeleigh described her mom as nice, funny and pretty.

When asked what she liked best about her mom, Kaeleigh said, "That she was very nice to people and she trusted people."

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