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Family plans foundation to honor woman killed in New Year’s Eve murder suicide

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- The family of a woman killed in a murder-suicide on New Year's Eve in Henrico County held a candlelight vigil in her honor Sunday evening.

The vigil for 24-year-old Michelle Rawlings, who was a beloved assistant basketball coach at Atlee High School, took place in the 3600 Kings Point Court.

That is where Henrico Police were dispatched for a welfare check around 7:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve.

When police arrived, they found 25-year-old Michelle Rawlings' body. They also found the body of 24-year-old Tyshawn Buckner. Police said Rawlings had been in a relationship with Buckner.

Loves ones, who remembered Rawlings as a strong, happy woman with a zest for life, said they are coming together in this time of tragedy.

"We stand here today strong as a family together and we have faith in our God that we can make it through this,” family members said. “Even though it's a tough time, we can make it through.”

The family plans to create the Michelle Rawlings Foundation to continue one of her biggest passions: giving back to the community.

Michelle Rawlings

Michelle Rawlings

Victim remembered as vibrant and energetic "blessing"

Rawlings' father told WTVR CBS 6 senior reporter Wayne Covil last week that he hoped the hoped the tragedy would serve as a teaching moment for others.

Michael Rawlings remembered his daughter as a vibrant and energetic "blessing" in his life.

“My daughter was wonderful,” Michael Rawlings said. “She was so much to so many people.”

The Norfolk State University graduate lived her life with the desire to help others, her father said.

“You know she wanted to help troubled teens, so she went to work in Norfolk in juvenile justice,” Michael Rawlings said.

Additionally, Rawlings said his daughter has recently started a new job.

"She was a foster care case worker... helping kids with placement, so she was doing her life’s work,” Rawlings explained.

Michael and Michelle Rawlings

Michael and Michelle Rawlings

Assistant basketball coach at Atlee High 

Along with a career in helping people, the Varina High School graduate was also an assistant basketball coach at Atlee High School in Hanover County.

Hanover County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Michael Gill said this district was saddened by the unexpected loss.

“We are heartbroken to learn of Michelle Rawlings’ tragic death and extend our deepest sympathy to her family and loved ones," Gill wrote. "We are grateful for her dedicated service to Hanover County Public Schools and the positive impact that she had on our students' lives.”

Rawlings said when he talked to his daughter on New Year’s Eve, she told him that she was headed to church.

"Even in that failed relationship, which what it was, she tried to help that boy so much," he said.

Rawlings said he hopes his family’s heartbreaking loss will serve as a teaching moment for parents to talk to their children -- no matter their age -- about how to end a relationship and what to do if things go wrong.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, click here for resources from the Virginia Department of Social Services.  This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can submit a news tip here.

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