Amber Dubois' friends are mourning the loss of "one of the nicest people" they ever met, they said on Monday.
The news that Amber’s remains were found over the weekend in remote North County was especially difficult for students at Escondido High School, which the 14-year-old was attending as a freshman when she went missing on Feb. 13, 2009.
On Monday, grief counselors were on hand at the school to help comfort the teenagers dealing with the tragic loss of their classmate and friend.
"Amber's been lost to us, but she'll live on in the memories of our staff and students as we try to move forward during this difficult time of healing," Principal Rich Watkins said.
A letter posted at a makeshift memorial outside the school said, "Dear Amber, you're in a much better place now. May you rest in peace."
Huddling under umbrellas, friends of Amber struggled to sign their names on a card in memory of their former classmate.
"She was just one of the sweetest people I knew," said Hailey Kosinsky, who was friend of Amber's. "It's horrible that this happened to her, because ... I mean, there's no reason. She is the nicest person I've ever met in my life: never judged anyone, she was always smiling. All of us, the friends who ... once we heard, we all broke out, and we just cried and cried and cried. There's no way we could stop it. We just loved her so much."
Hailey said that after Chelsea King's body was found, she was afraid that something like this would happen: "I mean, it's been a year, so it just ... reopened old wounds."
She said she didn't know if she would be able to get through the school day.
Investigators have not announced if John Albert Gardner III, a registered sex offender from Lake Elsinore, may be connected to Amber’s death. Gardner pleaded not guilty in the rape and slaying of 17-year-old Chelsea King. The Poway teenager was last seen alive Feb. 25 when she went for a run after school in the Rancho Bernardo Community Park.
Meantime, some Escondido High School parents can’t help but draw a connection.
“We really didn’t think anything like this was going to be the outcome until this creep got caught,” said Bruce Pederson.
Now some parents are hoping, the discovery of Amber’s remains, will somehow give the family some closure.
On Monday at 6:30 p.m., a vigil is planned for Escondido High School to honor the memory of Amber Dubois.