Murdered UNT student laid to rest in San Marcos

Friends and family said their goodbyes to a 20-year-old University of North Texas student who was shot and killed on New Year's Day.

The memorial service for Sara Mutschlechner was held in San Marcos Thursday afternoon.

"They had to have two rooms; the main service room and all along the walls there were people standing and all the way out through the hallway. And then they had a second room just for people to watch from there just because they couldn't even fit everybody in the main room," said Caleb Edwards who became friends with Sara while she was a student at UNT.

Sara grew up in Martindale and attended high school in San Marcos. After graduating, she moved to Denton and majored in radio, film and television at the University of North Texas.

Thursday, hundreds reminisced about Mutschlechner and the beautiful life she left behind.

"One of the things she always told me, she always came up and gave me a hug and said, 'I love you.' And that's the kind of attitude she had for everyone no matter what, unconditional love," said Cameron Valenta who knew Sara in elementary school. 

"I think to me the most comforting part is just seeing how big of an influence she's had on the people around her. Just coming here, it blew my mind how many people were here supporting and stuff, so I think that just says a lot about her and kind of gives me a way that I want to live my life up to that kind of standard," said Edwards. 

From stories about the sweet beginning to the abrupt end, it became clear; Sara touched so many lives in her 20 years on earth

"She is actually the first friend I actually recall having," said Evan Valenta who met Sara in preschool.

"It doesn't really feel real. It feels like I'll see her on campus in maybe a week or two or something like that. And then it just kind of smacks you in the face, like no, like she really is gone," Edwards said.

"A lot of people shared that they didn't want the situation to be about the hate and the loss. They wanted it to be about the obvious life that she had just by looking at the amount of people here. And they wanted people to focus on the 20 years that she did have of just joy and such," added Edwards.

The University of North Texas student was driving her friends home from a New Year's Eve party when police said she was shot by a man in a black SUV.

Sara was put on life support at Denton Regional Medical Center. Just hours later, Mutschlechner's parents made the difficult decision to let their only child go and donate her organs.

"From a very early age that was something she wanted to do and I think the family didn't have any hesitation to make that happen," Edwards said.

That's when the end of Sara's life gave someone else a new beginning.

"I think it's a beautiful thing and even in death to be able to help someone else continue living," said Marshall Valenta who also attended preschool with Sara.

"It brought them even more joy knowing that she lived on and helped someone else even after her passing," Edwards said.

After the memorial service, Sara was buried at the San Marcos Cemetery.

Officials in Arizona are working to bring her alleged murderer back to Texas.

Police said the suspect behind the UNT student's murder is a U.S. Marine. 20-year-old Eric Jamal Johnson was caught on an air base in Yuma.Officials are working to bring Johnson back to Texas to face charges.
 

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