Community Holds Prayer Vigil for Missing BYU Student

Community Holds Prayer Vigil for Missing BYU Student

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CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) -- Hundreds of people gathered outside the Benton County Courthouse on Monday night to pray for the safe return of a missing Brigham Young University student.

Brooke Wilberger was last seen May 24 at the Corvallis apartment complex her sister manages.

Since then, more than 1,200 volunteers have searched more than 4,200 acres of the area, fanning out along rivers, forests and hills.

Corvallis stake president David Blake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presided over Monday's 25-minute vigil, which included prayers, hymns and an appeal for more volunteers.

"We want to thank you for your love, your concern and for your time," Blake said. "We will continue the effort."

Larry Blake, the LDS Eugene stake president, led the prayer for Brooke's return.

"Lord, we are striving to do all we can to find her," he said. "In one united voice we raise it to Thee and ask for your blessing and comfort."

Zack Hansen, Wilberger's brother-in-law, expressed the family's firm belief Brooke will be found safe.

"We do have hope," he told the crowd. "We do believe we'll find Brooke, and we believe in the power of prayer."

Following the vigil, Brooke's parents, Cammy and Jim Wilberger, met with many of those in attendance and accepted their words of comfort. They also provided a few words of encouragement to those who have spent the past week searching for their daughter.

Police estimated the crowd to be about 650, many of them fellow church members of the Wilberger family and some people just seeking a sense of community.

"I'm just hoping the community gets like this," said Aronda Beagle of Corvallis as she brought her hands together. "I'm really saddened that someone could do these things."

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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