Transgender rights activist Elise Malary remembered, honored after body found in Lake Michigan

Police said the 31-year-old went missing on March 11 after texting with her sister two days before
EVANSTON, Ill. (WLS) -- A solemn tune plays over hugs and tears at a vigil Sunday as those who knew Elise Malary came together with heavy hearts.

"She was such a sweet, kind person," said Mark Enenbach, a close friend of Malary.

"I came from Darien, Illinois, just to be here because that's how much she meant to me," said fellow friend, Jacqueline Herrod.

"We will remember your quiet self-assurance that lit every room she entered with an invincible smile," added Myles Brady Davis, who is also a friend.

RELATED: Friends, family continue search for missing Evanston woman and trans advocate Elise Malary

They are honoring Malary after the unthinkable became a tragic reality.

"It saddens us that Elise is now our ancestor," said Precious Brady Davis, a friend and fellow trans-rights advocate.

Police said the 31-year-old went missing on March 11 after texting with her sister two days before.

Her car was then found last Tuesday in a parking lot near her apartment in Evanston.

Two days after that, a body was pulled from Lake Michigan near Garden Park, just blocks away from her home.

Then detectives confirmed loved ones' worst fears over the weekend, positively identifying Malary as the person from the lake.

The cause and manner of her death is still under investigation.

"We don't know what transpired. We just know our sister is gone," said Alderman Andre Vasquez, 40th Ward.

Family and friends gathering outside of the Women and Children First Center on Chicago's North Side, which was a place where Malary's impact was most felt as she spent years advocating for transgender rights.

RELATED: Missing Evanston woman, trans advocate Elise Malary ID'd as body recovered from Lake Michigan

Efforts many hope will never be forgotten.

"I really hope Elise's name is continued to be said and remembered way after today," said Malary's friend, KJ Whitehead.

Loved ones ending the night with a solemn candlelight vigil just a few blocks away, outside Chicago Waldorf School. Many of them said they will continue to keep Malary's legacy alive in her years-long efforts in the LGBTQ community.

The Evanston Police Department said they are continuing their investigation and ask anyone with information to contact the Evanston Police Detective Bureau at 847-866-5040.
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