LORAIN — When U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Eric Barnes was killed in Iraq in 2007, Catherine Hoholski painted a picture of Barnes in his dress blues for his parents to remember him by.
“Little did I know that five years later that same picture would help us to remember her and the wonderful person she was,” said Shari Barnes, his mother, at a candlelight vigil Sunday for the 27-year-old Hoholksi, who was found slain Wednesday.
Shari Barnes was one of about a dozen people who spoke of Hoholksi — known as “Kat” to friends and relatives — at the vigil at Veterans Park attended by about 150 people. Hoholksi, a clarinet player, had played with Eric Barnes, a trumpet player, in their middle school band. She went on to graduate from the former Southview High School in 2004 and was working as an assembler at Camaco, an auto parts company in Lorain, at the time of her death.
Hoholksi — whose boyfriend, Albert Fine, is suspected of killing her and hiding her body in their Tower Boulevard apartment complex building for about a month — was remembered for her selflessness and sweetness.
“She was fragile and strong and very sensitive to other people’s needs,” said Barbara Bee, one of dozens of parishioners from Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Elyria who attended the vigil. Hoholksi and her family have attended the church since 2001.
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Bee summed up the combination of fragility and strength she saw in Hoholski with a seashell Hoholski gave her shortly after they met in 2001.
“I barely knew her at that point, and I just thought, how beautiful for her to spend that time looking for something so cherished for someone she didn’t know that well,” Bee said. “She was always about light and making people feel God’s light and love.”
Vigil speakers reflected on Hoholski’s life and devout religious beliefs rather than the circumstances of her death. Fine is accused of hiding Hoholksi’s body in a storage unit, but police have not given a motive for the killing.
Fine, 30, was arrested Thursday in Lexington, Ky. Also questioned, but not arrested in Lexington, was Merry Bennett, a possible girlfriend of Fine.
Fine, who is fighting extradition to Ohio, was being held late Sunday in lieu of a $20,000 bond at the Fayette County Jail in Lexington. Fine, who wrote of being “filled with rage” in a June 6 Facebook post, is due in Fayette County Court on Thursday.
The only reference to Hoholski’s relationship with Fine at the vigil was from a Nord Center counselor who said she had attended a couple’s therapy program together shortly after the birth of their daughter, Jasmine Rose, born prematurely and with severe medical problems in March. The counselor said Hoholksi had shown pictures of Jasmine and seemed to be responding well to counseling.
Hoholksi had her last contact with the center during the week of June 28, according to her mother, Jane Hoholski, who reported her missing on July 12.
At the vigil, which included prayers and a moment of silence, a tearful Jane Hoholski clutched flowers and accepted hugs from friends. Kenneth Hoholski, Catherine’s father, thanked attendees, many of whom were in tears during the ceremony.
“I see how many people she touched,” he said.
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or firstname.lastname@example.org.