PORT ANGELES — A vigil is planned to honor Valerie Claplanhoo, whose body was found in her Sequim apartment earlier this month.
On Monday at 5 p.m. friends will gather at Veterans Memorial Park, 217 S. Lincoln St., Port Angeles, to say goodbye to Claplanhoo.
Brianna Kelly said she is organizing the vigil after she heard from many friends who were asking about a service or memorial, but none had been planned until later in the year.
Kelly said she didn’t know Claplanhoo well, but she knows many people who did. She wanted to provide an opportunity for them to grieve and to celebrate her life.
“Friends are missing her and I wanted to help them,” she said.
Claplanhoo died of traumatic injuries due to homicidal violence, according to the Clallam County coroner. She was found Jan. 2 in her home at Sunbelt Apartments, a complex owned by the Peninsula Housing Authority and operated by Serenity House of Clallam County.
Police said Monday they are continuing to investigate the death and no arrests have been made.
Sequim Police Chief Sheri Crain said the case is “still a highest of priorities,” but that she would not be releasing more information at this time.
“It’s really sad and it’s hard to imagine a place that was meant to house people and be safe, that a tragedy like this could happen there,” Kelly said.
Brandan McCarty, Claplanhoo’s son, said Monday he is thankful for the vigil. He said he didn’t realize how many people knew his mother and he hopes the vigil will give people a chance to find closure.
“My mom had a loving heart and she was always helping someone, even if it was the coat off her back or the food she was eating,” McCarty said. “She was always willing to give to others without thinking.”
It’s a trait McCarty said he tried to carry on in his life.
“I follow my mom’s example that she had set,” he said.
McCarty said his mother, a Makah tribal member, loved to weave baskets, bake, cook and write poetry. He said she kept journals that were filled with her poetry, which he hopes to see published some day.
“All I can think about is that she’s such a wonderful person and I don’t know why she was taken from us,” McCarty said. “All she did was love.”
He said each member of his family is struggling with her death and everyone is doing their best to move forward.
Claplanhoo is survived by her three sisters and her three children, McCarty said.
“My little sister is doing her best to move forward; I’m doing my best to move forward, but I still have sad moments,” McCarty said, adding he will work on paintings in her memory.
“We’re all grieving in our own way.”
McCarty said a celebration of life is planned for 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. May 4 at the Makah Tribal Community Hall, 81 Third Ave., Neah Bay.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].