Investigators probe campus after death of Wood Village teen
Police continue to investigate after a Wood Village teenager was found dead in a Salem park last week.
Authorities have provided few details after hikers found the body of Willamette University sophomore Abigail Agustin-Paz, 19, in Minto-Brown Park on Friday, Oct. 2.
No cause of death has been released, but an editor for the student paper confirmed in an email to Pamplin Media that multiple investigators with the Salem Police Department visited campus and interviewed students.
One of Agustin-Paz's parents called the university's Office of Campus Safety around 4:20 p.m. on Friday, requesting a welfare check and stating they had not heard from her "for the past few days."
"An officer responded to check on the student and was met by their roommate who stated they also had not seen their roommate for some time," the campus safety department reported.
Agustin-Paz — who went by the name Abi — had lived in Wood Village and previously attended the Reynolds School District and the Center for Advanced Learning before enrolling at Willamette University. Her father, Rudy Agustin, works as the manager for a local Carl's Jr. restaurant, according to a GoFundMe for the family, which has raised $14,000 so far.
"One of the most amazing kids I ever taught," recalled one of her teachers, Elizabeth Maki, in an email. "All of the teachers who taught her at CAL loved her and are heartbroken."
Agustin-Paz had dived into local politics, calling on several Salem-Keizer school board members to resign and asking the district to divest police resources from schools, the Salem Statesman-Journal reported.
"I also struggled to go to college because the councilors at my school weren't always well trained and the resources were sparse," she testified during a virtual school board meeting in July.
Friends and family remembered her as a bright and dedicated student who worked as a program assistant for the college access program Willamette Academy and at the student cafe, Bistro. She also joined student groups, including Alianza and the Willamette Events Board.
The Bistro Willamette mourns the loss of a truly special member of our community, Abigail Agustin-Paz. Abi's kindness, devotion, and contagious smile will be greatly missed and never forgotten. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/FKp3k8I1Kg— Bistro Willamette (@BistroTweetstro) October 8, 2020
"She was a driven and passionate young woman with a love for supporting families in our community," Willamette Academy wrote in a tribute. "It is clear that she was one of the kindest people we had on campus."
"Abi's kindness, devotion and contagious smile will be greatly missed and never forgotten," noted managers for the Bistro.
Administrators for Willamette University said there was no elevated threat to the campus, the city or those visiting the park, according to the student paper, the Collegian.
"I understand what a difficult time this is for so many, and that having police on campus, particularly unexpectedly, can cause great distress," Dean of Students Lisa Landreman said in a campus-wide email obtained by the paper. "While we want to keep our community safe and cooperate with any investigation, we also don't want to minimize the very real fears and harmful experiences that our BIPOC students and communities are experiencing with the police."
Follow me on Twitter
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.