Family hosts vigil for missing UI student

By Lillian Barkley

A vigil was held for missing student Vicente Mundo, junior in LAS, at 3 p.m. Sunday, one week after his disappearance. The vigil was moved to the Illini Union room C due to inclement weather.

Friends, family and community members filled the room as Stephen LaMalfa, Mundo’s brother-in-law, reminisced about Mundo’s kindness the first time he met him.

“The kid wouldn’t hurt a fly,” he said. The same sentiment was echoed by many throughout the service.

Father Daniel Gifford, assistant chaplain at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center, led a prayer for Mundo.

Julieta LaMalfa, Mundo’s older sister by 12 years, spoke about how humbling the experience had been and thanked the crowd.

“The support and help from the community has been truly, truly overwhelming,” she said.

Mundo was in the first generation of his family to go to college, she said. He fell in love with the University and made many friends through his love of soccer and the brotherhood of Theta Chi, his fraternity.

“He was so happy with this school, and I’m so proud of him,” LaMalfa said.

She requested that anyone with memories of her brother share them on Facebook. She also asked that they visit the website for LostNMissing.

Victoria Mundo, another of Mundo’s sisters, also shared memories of her younger brother. She described him as someone with no shame that would do anything to make people happy.

No matter the outcome, she said she wants her brother to be found.

“The not knowing is what’s killing us,” she said.

The vigil was extended to the family of Cristian Zamora, who has been missing since Dec. 31.

His family was unable to attend due to road conditions, but sent a statement which was read by Gioconda Guerra Perez, director of La Casa Cultural Latina.

Perez also said La Casa would be open during the week as a space for students to share experiences, as requested by Mundo’s family, who is Hispanic.

Renée Romano, vice chancellor for student affairs, expressed her regret at not knowing Mundo, but said that “the faculty and staff are all heartbroken.”

She said the Counseling Center would be open and that many staff members were in attendance at the vigil.

Professionals will also be available at La Casa throughout the week to provide support, Perez said.

Mundo’s family thanked attendees for their support and invited them to light a candle for Mundo and Zamora.

Anyone with information regarding the disappearances should contact the University of Illinois Police Department at 217-333-1216 or the Champaign Police Department at 217-351-4545.

Lillian can be reached at [email protected].