Candlelight memorial held in St. Pete for two murder victims

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - On a dark, wet night in front of a St. Petersburg house that now symbolizes so much pain, about 100 people gathered.

"To Paula! To Paula," they chanted.

"I hope that she's around and she can see this," said Chuck Terzian, fighting back tears.

With candles flickering in the wind, friends, neighbors, and loved ones came together to mourn the loss of a woman who meant so much to so many, 54-year-old Paula Witthaus.

"She was a wonderful, beautiful person," Kofi Hunt said. "I still can't process it fully."

Many in attendance met Witthaus in the last decade, right around the time she decided to turn her life around and become an outspoken community activist. Friends said she seemed better than ever, but Tuesday it all came to a stop.

Witthaus, along with the man she cared for, 67-year-old James Rapp, were discovered brutally murdered in her St. Petersburg home.

Police have yet to identify a suspect, but they say they do not believe it was a random attack.

Monday night, Karla Murdy spoke on behalf of the family.

"They would like to thank the community for what they're doing and they would hope that the community would help the police in any way they can to find the murderer," Murdy said.

Family and friends are planning to hold a funeral service for Witthaus next Saturday. The details are still being worked out.

Anyone with information regarding the double homicide is urged to contact the St. Petersburg Police Department. You may be eligible for a cash reward.

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