As Deirdre Miller clutched balloons and stared at the photograph of her daughter, Samantha, she tearfully spoke.
“My heart breaks for you,” she said before being comforted by friends. “I really hope that you are at peace.”
Miller and more than a dozen others gathered at the Delray Beach Pavilion late Wednesday to share their remembrances of Samantha, who was found dead Tuesday in an SUV parked near a suburban Boynton Beach Publix supermarket.
Samantha Miller, who was 27 years old, had been missing for 11 days, prompting family, friends and strangers to search for her.
Authorities have not said how Samantha died, but Miller said her daughter had struggled with drug addiction. During the vigil, people shared stories about Samantha’s compassion and desire to help others. They spoke of her intelligence.
And they spoke of her struggles with addiction.
“Her story needs to be told,” said Deirdre Miller, who had traveled from her home in New Jersey to search for Samantha. “Her story needs to be out there because if she can help just one person … then that person can help another person.”
Meghan Treiling of West Palm Beach said Samantha supported her during her own recovery.
“She was one of the first people that gave me hope that I had a chance,” she said. “She just always helped me hold on.”
Taylor Sutton and Jamie Levindoski, two Boynton Beach resdients who both are in recovery, said they did not know Samantha but were inspired to help with the search after hearing her story. On Wednesday night, both attended the vigil to show their support for Samantha’s family.
“You hear it all the time being in recover, people going back out and dying as a result of the disease,” Sutton said. “It’s sad. I think what makes this so different than other ones is really just how many came together to look for her. …You honestly don’t see a lot of families come down here and search like that.”
“It can happen to anybody, Levindoski said. “We’re not bad people. We’re sick people trying to get well.”
Deirdre Miller thanked those who volunteered to help during the search.
“You really restored my faith in humanity and that are really truly good people out there,” she said.