Friends and community members gathered in Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Bellingham on Thursday, July 9, to mourn the death of Western Washington University senior Meagan Elizabeth Smith. Western students had a large presence at the prayer service, as many recalled memories of her that had taken place throughout Western’s campus.
Smith was the victim of a homicide while she was house-sitting in Renton, Washington, and she was found dead in the house on the evening of Tuesday, July 7. The alleged shooter has been identified as 24-year-old Zachary Damien Craven of Kent, Washington, and is being held at King County Correctional Facility with a $5 million set bail.
Craven was charged with two counts of murder in the first degree and violation of a no contact order on Friday, July 10. His arraignment is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 23, at the King County Courthouse, prosecuting attorney Dan Satterberg said in a statement.
Smith was active in numerous religious groups, sports and mentor programs at Western. At the memorial service, friends and community members took turns to share specific memories that stood out to them and about how they will remember her.
Maura Mayock, 23, is a Western graduate who used to work with Smith at the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry, which is a Catholic community of Western students.
“Something that really amazes me about her was that she was in so many different friend groups,” Mayock said.
Smith worked as a social justice coordinator for the Newman Center, and previously was a small group leader.
“She was connected to so many different people, and she was able to love them so deeply,” Mayock said.
Smith was involved with a couple of youth programs throughout Sacred Heart, including with the church’s volunteer coordinator April Waldrop.
“It takes a special person to work with middle-schoolers,” Waldrop said. She said it takes a lot of patience to work with kids at that age, but Smith was able to be a loving mentor.
“She gave a teaching earlier this year to the middle-school kids about heaven,” Waldrop said. “And she told them, ‘I’m not afraid to die.’ She told them, ‘I’m excited because when I die that means I’ll be with God.’”
Father Joseph Altenhofen from Sacred Heart first met Smith through the Newman Center at Western. Over the years, Smith became more involved within the church by organizing Catholic relief services, migrant food banks and other services, Altenhofen said.
Smith was a student in the liberal studies department at Western and was planning to graduate in the fall with a liberal arts degree, said Kimberly Lynn, chair and associate professor of the liberal studies department at Western, in an email.
“She was a musician and an athlete, dedicated to serving her community, who made any class or any seminar brighter by her presence in it,” Lynn said. “She will be deeply missed.”
Smith was a graduate from John F. Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, Washington. Her parents have created a fund on youcaring.com in her name in which people can donate to Campfire Tall Timbers Day Camp, Ferndale Middle School Girl’s Basketball team, St. Vincent De Paul Parish Mission Trek and the Newman Center. The fund’s goal was $10,000, and has since exceeded this amount.
Smith’s funeral service will be held Friday, July 17, at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Federal Way, Washington.