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Sophomore remembered as “sweet, beautiful”

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Photo Courtesy of Ashley Thomas

Halee Rathgeber was always smiling.

“She always had a smile on her face,” Ashley Thomas said. “Even if it was simply walking by her and waving at her she was always smiling from ear to ear.”

Despite never attending school together Thomas and Rathgeber had been friends since they were eight and nine years old. Thomas’s mother worked for Rathgeber’s dad which started their friendship.

Rathgeber, a 20-year-old nursing major, was found dead from a single gunshot wound to the head Monday morning at the Alcoa soccer fields in Warrick County. The Warrick County Coroner said the investigation is being considered a homicide.

“We were always with each other since day one when he became my mom’s boss,” Thomas said.

Thomas said if the two weren’t at her house they were at Rathgeber’s mom or dad’s house.

“We were together so much that her dad even had drawers for me at his own house because he counted me in as their family like I was one of his own,” Thomas said.

The two also spent a lot of time at Skateworld, a local skate rink in Evansville.

Thomas said Rathgeber was the type of person to help others and make sure everyone was ok.

“She always put her family and friends first no matter what,” Thomas said.

Thomas said she will always remember a day she spent in Rathgeber’s room attempting to catch “some type of flying gerbil.”

“It would fly across her room,” Thomas said. “We spent hours trying to get that just laughing and having the time of our lives.”

Thomas said the animal was hard to catch, but it was fun just to be with Rathgeber and see her smile.

As the two got older they didn’t talk everyday, but Thomas said she spoke with Rathgeber only a few days before she died.

“(We were) talking and laughing about how her mom takes her cat to work with her everyday,” she said. “It was just so funny to us because she’s always been that type of person to love her animals just like Halee was.”

She said Rathgeber loved her dogs and when she went home her snapchat would have pictures or videos of her dogs running to her every time she walked in the door.

“She was an amazing, sweet, beautiful young girl,” Thomas said.

Thomas has started a gofundme for the family in an attempt to help with funeral costs.

“That’s the last thing anyone has planned in their whole entire life is to get somebody buried and what not,” she said.

After talking to Rathgeber’s mom, Thomas created the campaign in hopes the family won’t have to take any money out of its own pocket for expenses.

“That wasn’t (her mom’s) worries, of money and what not,” Thomas said. “But just helping out would be awesome.”

Thomas said Rathgeber was known and loved by so many. She knows there are people who can help the family.

In the 21 hours since its creation the gofundme has raised $6,200 from 118 different donors. The total goal is $10,000.

Thomas said she wants everyone to know Rathgeber was a great person, inside and out.

“She was always there for anyone and everybody,” Thomas said. “If you didn’t know her and you needed someone to talk to she was there. She was always there to help.”

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Sophomore remembered as “sweet, beautiful”