WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – More than a dozen people gathered off Penniman Road in Williamsburg Saturday to celebrate a life.
Family and friends of Ashley Cerasole came together by candlelight to keep her memory alive.
“She just had a pure, sweet spirit,” said Cerasole’s mother Michelle Rocheleau. “I want you to know Ashley for her tremendous heart, her love. If you had met her, there’s no way that your heart wouldn’t have been touched. She just loved people.”
Cerasole was just 29 years old.
Her mother said she went missing on Dec. 3, 2020.
After investigators with the Gloucester County Sheriff’s Office searched for several days, Cerasole’s body was finally found. Dive teams discovered her body last Friday, Jan. 22, in a swampy, wooded area near Fox Mill Run in Gloucester, not too far from Cary Adult Home where she lived.
“I was in shock, disbelief - devastated in every way,” said Rocheleau. “Tremendous pain and sorrow. I’m having a very hard time accepting this. I go through all kinds of emotions of up and down. I cry one minute, I’m in denial the next... I don’t know.”
The pain is felt by so many.
Candice Harris is a family friend and pastor at the Empowered Believers Christian Learning Center Williamsburg church, where Cerasole was a member. The congregation organized the vigil.
Harris said Cerasole’s faith in God was important to her.
“We want people to know her life is valuable; it was wonderful,” she said. “She touched many, many hearts and lives.”
Cerasole was a published poet, a singer and songwriter. At the vigil, the organizers paid tribute by playing one of her songs.
“She was vivacious; she loved to live life,” Harris said. “If it was something she could accomplish, she wanted it and she was all about it. She had such a bright spirit.”
Cerasole was an accomplished woman, but she now leaves behind very large holes in many hearts.
“Just pray for me. I’m having a hard time,” Rocheleau said as tears rolled down her face. “We were very close. We were always together. I can’t imagine my life without her, and I won’t.”
Rocheleau said she’s thankful for the community’s support as questions remain over what happened to her daughter and how she went missing.
“Don’t forget her because she needs you,” she said. “She needs justice.”
The Gloucester County Sheriff’s Office told News 3 Saturday the Norfolk Medical Examiner’s Office is still investigating exactly how Cerasole died, but at this time, no signs of foul play have been reported. The exact cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy and toxicology report.