SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It was a goodbye no one was prepared for as hundreds of Land Park community members gathered for a memorial Thursday in honor of their neighbor and friend.
“I’m devastated, I cried, I can’t even tell you how I felt. I didn’t believe it,” said friend, Colleen Houk.READ MORE: Amber Alert: Children Abducted By Father In Riverside County, Possibly Near Modesto
Colleen Houk met Mary Tibbitts—better known as Kate—back in the ’90s, hiring Kate for a job with the state.
“She was quirky, funny, if you know you know,” said Houk.
Hundreds of friends, family, neighbors and strangers gathered in Kate’s Land Park neighborhood Thursday for a memorial.
“Her smile, her generosity, she was just a good person,” explained friend, Susan Baker.
The 61-year-old Kate Tibbitts was killed inside her home. The suspect, a parolee, was accused of murdering Kate and her two dogs before setting her house on fire.
Debra S. didn’t know Kate but felt compelled to organize the event in her honor.
“It gave me a place to put my fear and anger because I’ve said this dozens of times now, it really could’ve been any of us,” she explained.READ MORE: Sacramento Police Say Thieves Target Women Along Stockton Boulevard In Broad Daylight
Neighbors held back tears as they remembered the woman that meant so much to so many.
“I just want to say how much she was loved,” one woman said.
“My sister Kate was a loving sister, devoted and loving cousin, aunt, daughter a fiercely loyal friend,” explained Dan Tibbitts, Kate’s brother.
Dan remembered his sister, focusing not on how she died, but on how she lived.
“We are all outraged at what happened,” he said. “We will talk about the outrage another day. Today, we are here to honor my sister.”
Many admired Kate for her heart for animals including her 25 years volunteering at the SPCA.
“She would take dogs in, foster them, she would pick them up, take them to their fosters. They could call her in the middle of the night, and she would go. She was a wonderful person,” explained Houk.
A community in mourning is hoping to keep Kate’s memory alive.MORE NEWS: 2 Now-Former Stockton Police Officers Charged In Beating During Arrest Of Teen
“I get goosebumps thinking of what a loss this has been,” said Baker.