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."