It was a day of celebration at UNC-Wilmington as the Class of 2004 becomes college graduates. But the joy is laced with a tinge of sorrow, as the students cope with the murder of one of their own.
On Wednesday Jessica Faulkner's body was found in a dorm room on campus. An autopsy reveals she was strangled. Police believe by another student, Curtis Dixon. He's been charged with murder, kidnapping and rape.
At the graduation, these horrific events are not far from everyone's minds. Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo begins the graduation with a moment of silence for Jessica.
But the mood lightens as students accept diploma's and finally become graduates. Many say it was just too hard to forget what happened on their campus. Graduate Justin Thompson says, "You've got that in back of your head, it was just a week ago." "It's been real tough, but we're all sticking together." says a positive Angela Barnes.
The students and graduates say they're looking at the celebration of graduation as a way to move on from this tragedy.