Family, friends gather at Phoenix park to host vigil for Cathryn Gorospe

Posted at 6:50 PM, Oct 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-16 12:30:09-04

The community gathered Saturday night at Paseo Highlands Park in Phoenix to hold a vigil for a Glendale teacher whose body was believed to be found in Flagstaff on Friday.

Family, friends and former students met on the soccer field at the park to share memories of 44-year-old Cathryn Gorospe, a teacher at Arrowhead Elementary School. 

Friends remembered her as being a fun-loving and someone you could always count on.

"She would do anything for anybody," friend Julie Wawrzyk said. "She would stop what she was doing just to make your day."

That sentiment was shared by many of Gorospe's friends who attended the vigil.

Sarah Miller, an attendee of the vigil, says Gorospe helped raise her and her sister.

"She loved unconditionally," Miller said. "She would see the light in every dark situation; she couldn't say a bad word about any person."

Her family handed out a statement at the vigil thanking the community for their support and the hard work of law enforcement agencies involved in the search. 

"On behalf of the Gorospe family we would like to thank everyone for their prayers, thoughts and support through this difficult time. We would especially like to thank Det. Casey Rucker and his team for the hard work in locating Cathryn and bringing our family peace. We would also like to thank the Williams Police Department and community for their support. To all the off-duty police and firefighters that came to help our efforts, we would not bave been able to do any of this without you."

The statement went on to say that Gorospe was loved by all and was always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone who needed it.

"Cathryn was a very special person that was loved by many. She touched many lives through her work as an educator, her love of animals and her support of community members and those in need. Cathryn always saw the best in everyone wand was willing to help others. As an educator she inspired, taught and loved each child that walked through her door. Her former students are still a part of her life, which shows her dedication to them. Cathryn loved running in different charity events, being in the outdoors and spending time with her beloved dog Sunshine. She was an avid reader who loved trips to Disneyland and the Grand Canyon. Cathryn was a very energetic, bubbly, upbeat, funny and overall charismatic person. She took every opportunity to meet new people and would love talking to them for hours. She loved to travel with the family to places like Australia, Alaska, river rafting and hiking the Grand Canyon and Mexico. She would often take trips to Laughlin and go on camping adventures with her friends. Cathryn had an infectious smile that would make you smile with her. Her quick-witted humor was often beyond compare and would surprise you at any given moment.

Moving forward we ask for your continued thoughts and prayers as we navigate the days ahead. Cathryn’s family and friends have an unbreakable bond that will continue through this difficult time. Our memories of her and our love for her will never be forgotten." 

In an interview with ABC15 on Sunday, Gorospe's brother, Cory, said he believed the body found by authorities is his sister.

"This is not the outcome we were hoping for, but the important thing is we found my sister," he said.

Cory told ABC15 he plans to visit the location where authorities found the body. Investigators have not publicly given details about the where the remains were found.

"It's going to bring some closure for us," Cory explained. "It's definitely going to be hard. It's going to be a spot that lives in my mind for the rest of my life."

Cory thanked the dozens of people who attended the vigil on Saturday.

"Just remember my sister for who she was, which was a shining star, a beautiful person that loved everyone and everyone loved her," he said.

The Deer Valley Unified School District also released a statement Saturday saying they’re “deeply saddened” by the death of Gorospe and that counselors and psychologists will be on-hand at Arrowhead Elementary School Monday for students who need support.



Gorospe went missing last week after posting bond for her friend 27-year-old Charlie Malzahn.

Malzahn, who has an extensive criminal history, has remained uncooperative with investigators and would not tell them about the woman's whereabouts. 

On Friday, family and friends performed an unofficial search for Gorospe and the remains of an adult female were located. Authorities said they believe it's Goropse and an autopsy is pending.