FRONT ROYAL – Friends and family of Leah Marie Adams shared laughter and tears at a vigil in town Thursday.
Dozens of people gathered by the skatepark to remember Adams, 19, who died Saturday night. Police have charged her 17-year-old boyfriend with murder in Adams’ death.
Adams’ friend, Hunter Porter, and several others organized the vigil. Many congregants from Grace Downtown of Winchester, which the family attended, came to pay their respects. Her father, Robert Adams, leads a youth group at the church.
“It’s obvious Leah had a lot of friends, more than I knew,” Robert Adams told the crowd.
Friends and family members who spoke through laughter and tears took turns recounting stories about the woman who affected their lives.
“Everyone that Leah came into contact with she made some sort of imprint on,” Porter said. “She was always that person that never made me or anyone else in this room feel like they were unimportant.
“She made sure that even when she couldn’t fully support herself, she was everyone else’s support system,” Porter added, trying to hold back tears. “She’s so selfless and genuine. Every time I had a problem or an issue with anyone Leah was always the first one to be there to back me up.”
Robert Adams and several other speakers blamed drugs for the events that led up to Leah Adams’ death. Authorities have not released information that would indicate if drugs were involved in the incident.
Adams and others also spoke of forgiveness and moving forward after Leah Adams’ death.
Adams moved to an apartment on Cherrydale Avenue in November, her father said before the vigil. Adams, a 2016 graduate of James Wood High School in Frederick County, started taking classes at Lord Fairfax Community College and worked at Navy Federal Credit Union.
“She had lots of dreams, lots of things to do,” Adams said.
Leah Adams was the oldest of four children. Her brothers Dillian, 17, Preston, 14, and Peyton, 12, also attended the vigil. Robert Adams said Leah and Peyton were “inseparable.”
“We didn’t know if we were ready to come,” Robert Adams said of the vigil.
The father responded to the community outpouring for Leah Adams and the family.
“It was very overwhelming but … I feel good about it,” Adams said. “I never expected such a response by people that have reached out to me.”
Adams spoke about his daughter.
“My daughter was a really kind-hearted person,” he said. “She’s a person that would go through McDonald’s and buy the person behind them a meal and try to keep their day going.”
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org
An earlier version of this story should have said that many speakers at the vigil for Leah Adams attend Grace Downtown of Winchester.