ASG Gala goes on in victim’s honor

Jayne McGowan, the young woman found shot to death in a St. Clair Avenue residence yesterday, was a "talented, focused, energetic individual," says her boss a the AIDS/HIV Services Group, executive director Kathy Baker. In the wake of McGowan's death, Baker says the organization struggled with whether to go on with their 20th Anniversary Gala scheduled for tonight and which the 26-year-old McGowan had been charged with organizing. After consulting with McGowan's New York-based parents, Baker says the event will happen at the Monticello Event and Conference Center on MonticelloRoad from 7-11pm.

"We agreed it would be a shame to squander what Jayne poured her heart and soul in for the last three months," says Baker, adding that McGowan's parents gave their blessing to "go forward and do the event the way Jayne wanted it done."

A 2003 UVA grad, McGowan had been living in D.C. the last few years but decided to move back to Charlottesville in late summer. Baker says she offered McGowan the position as development coordinator on the spot, and McGowan started work three months ago.

"We knew she was someone we needed and wanted to have as part of our team," says Baker. The decision, she says, paid off.

"Jayne was one of the most dynamic and healthy, well balanced young people," says Baker. "She was delightful to work with. In a short time she'd become an integral part of this office faster than many people do."

Downing Smith, who owns the house McGowan had moved into six weeks ago at 807 St. Clair Avenue, says his new tenant was also one of the "best we ever had."

"If I had a daughter I wish she'd be just like Jayne," says Smith, who describes her as "cheerful, responsible." Citing the ongoing investigation, Smith declined to offer any details on the house or the crime.

Police discovered McGowan's body around 3pm yesterday afternoon at her house after concerned coworkers called to report she had not shown up for work. According to police, she died of at least one gunshot wound, and her car– a gold Nissan Sentra with the Virginia license plate AED-2522– was stolen. The occupants are considered armed and dangerous, according to a press release from the city. Charlottesville Police Sergeant Marc Brake did not immediately return the Hook's call.

Baker says she struggles to believe the crime could have been committed by someone McGowan knew.

"I think she's the least likely person I've ever known to have a focused enemy of any sort," says Baker. "This doesn't make sense in any shape or form."

7 comments

Jayne was one of the sweetest and most generous people I've known. It was impossible not to love her, and impossible not to have fun when you were with her. This is such a horrible and senseless crime, and my prayers are with the McGowan Family in this unimaginably tough time.

Jayne was one of my best friends. I lived with her during college and afterwards in D.C. She is an amazing person, she loved everyone. I know how important this event was to her. She had even emailed all of her friends to see if we could come to Cville. She would definitely want it to go on. I love you Jayne. You will never be forgotten.

Jayne was my cousin. Anyone who knew who her was blessed whenever they were in her presence. She loved her family, and she had an energy that was constantly contagious. We are all still trying to grasp that she is gone. Thank you to all who will keep us in their prayers.

Words just don't convey how good a person Jayne was. When I lived in DC I lived above Betsy and Jayne in the same apartment building, but then I moved back to C-Ville. When Jayne was contemplating her move we talked about how great C-Ville is and how she should def. move back and how much more there was to C-Ville than what we all experienced while at UVa - she came down and looking for places to live and was so happy to find a 'cute little house in a great part of town' - she jumped headfirst into calling Charlottesville home and was so excited about the Gala - I know that she is glad that the event went on. To all of us who knew her her smile and laugh will always be with us. Rest in peace.

Condolence for all the friends and family. My sister was a good friend of Jayne @ UVA.

my family had the honor of meeting jayne and the rest of her family when my cousin married jayne's sister. from the weekend we spent with the mc gowan family it was easy to see what a wonderful, loving family there were.

in speaking to jayne, you could tell she really wanted to make a difference in the world. it saddens our family to learn she is no longer with us.

our hearts and prayers go out to the mcgowan family.

Hi Betsy and all of Jayne's friends who may be reading. I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm the reporter covering this story for the Hook, and from the little I've heard, Jayne sounds like someone anyone would have loved to have as a friend. I would really like to hear stories about Jayne that would let me share with the community who she was and what drew people to her. If anyone would be willing to speak with me and share their recollections, I would greatly appreciate it. You can reach me this weekend at 434-981-0056 or monday at 434-295-8700 ext. 236. My email is stuart@readthehook.com.

Thanks so much.

Courteney Stuart