Wichita homicide victim Emily Sonneman’s loved ones gather at vigil

Homicide victim's loved ones gather

Friends and family remember Emily Sonneman at a vigil Friday night. (July 8, 2016)
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Friends and family remember Emily Sonneman at a vigil Friday night. (July 8, 2016)

To those who knew her, Emily Sonneman was a champion, a pure soul, and “a shining star.”

Over 60 close friends and family members gathered in Buffalo Park on Friday night to remember the woman who was killed earlier this week.

“She made you feel at home no matter where you were at,” said Jalissa Spiller, a close friend of Sonneman’s.“She wanted you to know you were loved and you were important and you were special.”

Sonneman died on Wednesday after an altercation with her ex-boyfriend, Dion Stevens. Police said she was returning items to Stevens when something happened that caused her to jump from a second-floor balcony, screaming. Stevens chased her in the parking lot, firing a gun. Sonneman sustained several gunshot wounds and later died at Wesley Medical Center.

But Friday evening there was no talk of violence as loved ones gathered in a circle, clutching candles and balloons, to tell their stories about the vibrant young woman who they said gave love and attention to everyone who met her.

“She could cheer me up no matter what,” said Karen Means, who got to know Sonneman as a friend of her daughter’s. “Nobody could get me off of that couch, and get me dancing around or Hula-Hooping more than Emily. I’m just so thankful to have known her.”

Sonneman, a graduate of Goddard High School, was remembered for her enthusiasm for life, her dedication to her friends, and her unwavering competitive edge. Whether it was was watching her favorite NFL team, playing goalie for her soccer team or comforting a loved one, those who knew her said she brought a passionate determination to everything she did.

“That’s the best part about Emily,” said Rachel Butler, a former teammate of Sonneman’s. “She didn’t care about what was going on, she wanted to have a good time, she wanted you to have a good time, and if you weren’t having a good time, it was her responsibility to make sure you were having a good time.”

Several of Sonneman’s family members were present for the vigil, including aunts, her mother and her brother, Neal.

Neal Sonneman described his only sibling as someone he could always count on in times of trouble, and he said he will remember her for her passion and determination.

“She was a champion, man,” he said.

Friends and family remember Emily Sonneman at a vigil Friday night. (July 8, 2016)

Lara Korte: 316-268-6290

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