Red rose petals littered the parking lot at Kelly Funeral Home in Orleans Tuesday morning after the memorial service for homicide victim Jessica Riopelle.
Roughly 110 people packed the chapel — and dozens lined up out the door —to remember the 23-year-old who was killed March 26 at a south Ottawa motel.
The emotional service was “pretty intense, but it was good. It was beautiful,” said high school friend Joel Roche.
Eulogies were delivered during the memorial mostly by relatives.
“I think it will have to be her laugh and her smile, definitely,” said Roche, when asked what he’ll miss most about Riopelle. “I don’t know which one more, but probably a mix of both.”
Ottawa Police have charged a man with second-degree murder in connection with Riopelle’s death.
Patrick Dunac, 34, is in custody undergoing a psychiatric assessment to determine if he is fit to stand trial.
Riopelle was working as an exotic dancer at Diamonds Cabaret and had been staying at the Saade International Inn when she was killed.
Roche said he reconnected with Riopelle about two weeks ago, right after the wake for their friend Scott Ledoux, 22, who was killed March 18 and whose funeral was held at the same chapel.
Roche learned she was passionate about photography and said he regrets not getting Riopelle’s cell phone number.
“Unfortunately, ’cause I knew she was headed down the wrong path and she was making some pretty rough choices…she told me she was making money and living on her own and stuff, but there were some bells going off in the back of my mind and I wish I had acknowledged them a little bit earlier,” he said.
Tragically, he got Riopelle’s number from her sister the same night she was killed.
“So that really got me,” Roche said.
Riopelle went by the name ‘Summer Time’ on Facebook, and that’s how Riopelle will be remembered, Roche said.
“Anytime I look out and feel the sun shine and the nice warm weather, I’m going to think about her.”
Dunac’s next court date is April 15.