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Friends, family remember slain Highlands Ranch teen

Posted at 7:19 AM, Jan 17, 2020

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — A community came together at Mile High Academy Thursday evening to grieve the loss of 17-year-old Mya Peña.

The teen was found dead hours after she disappeared from the Highlands Ranch school on Tuesday. According to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, they believe her friend, 18-year-old Samuel Hoffman, killed her. Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said Hoffman committed suicide as officers approached his vehicle near Fountain. Peña was found in the back seat. The case is being investigated as a murder-suicide.

Friends described Peña as loving, passionate, and encouraging.

"Mya was the type of person that could make you smile in your darkest moments," a friend from Puerto Rico said in a message. "She would help you with anything no matter how big or small the problems."

Rebecca Berg, one of Mya's teachers, described her as a teen who was undeniably loved.

"Her big smile, her goofy sense of humor, her very competitive spirit," Berg said.

The candlelight vigil at the high school was streamed on YouTube, and students and staff took turns sharing memories of Mya. Friends who shared memories were not shown on camera.

"She was an amazing person who cared about everyone around her," one friend said.

Another friend said that Mya was like a sister to her, and she loved her with all her heart.

Mya's funeral will be held on Monday. School officials said counselors are available to help students cope with the tragedy.