With a heavy heart

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dear Members of the Appalachian Community,

I am deeply saddened to share with you that the search for our missing student Anna Marie Smith has ended tragically. According to the most recent Boone Police Department news release, initial evidence located at the scene indicates that the deceased found off campus earlier today, Sept. 13, is Anna. Our thoughts and deepest sympathy are with Anna’s family and loved ones during this very difficult time. Having one of our own missing struck the Appalachian community very hard, and this very sad news is heartbreaking for us all.

The loss of Anna will continue to weigh heavy on our hearts. I ask that we all join together to support and care for one another as we mourn.

Over the time Anna was missing, countless people were dedicated to finding her. I express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to law enforcement, her loved ones and friends, our students, faculty and staff, and the many others who devoted countless hours to the search and to ensuring that the message about Anna was seen by so many. We had hoped so much that this search would end differently, yet all of these efforts underscore our belief in just how integral each of us is to this community.

Later this evening, Dean of Students J.J. Brown will send a message to our students, assuring them that resources are available to help students cope with this news. Next week, Student Development will place a memorial book in Plemmons Student Union for Anna’s family. This book will be given to them as an expression of our concern and care. As we receive information regarding services for Anna, a notice will be sent to the campus community with those arrangements. Please keep Anna’s entire family in your thoughts during this difficult time.

It is important for each of us to remember that we are not alone. There are always people in this Appalachian community to whom we can turn for solace, caring counsel, and assistance. I find strength in the great power of our community to support those with broken hearts and burdened spirits who have been powerfully affected by the loss of this bright young light.

With a heavy heart,

/s/ Sheri N. Everts

Sheri N. Everts