PRESCOTT, Ariz. — Candles lit up the plaza of a central Arizona courthouse Wednesday as hundreds gathered to honor the American woman taken hostage by Islamic militants.

Kayla Mueller’s death was confirmed earlier this month by her family and U.S. officials. The 26-year-old international aid worker from Prescott, Arizona, had been captured in Syria.

She was killed earlier this month. Friends, family and strangers wore pink ribbons on their shirts as they listened to speakers reflect on Mueller’s life and work. Her parents, Carl and Marsha Mueller, did not speak to the crowd, but they mingled afterward and embraced friends.

Eric Mueller encouraged the crowd to live as his sister did by reaching out to people who are suffering and make the community stronger.

“Let Kayla’s heart live on through all of us and the people she touched in life,” he said. “Do what Kayla would do, make the community even stronger.”

The crowd lit candles toward the end of the ceremony and followed Karl Mueller’s lead as he stretched his candle toward the sky.

Mueller was captured in Syria in August 2013. Little is known about her time in captivity.

Kathleen Day, a minister at Northern Arizona University who kept in touch with Mueller after she graduated in 2009 and has counseled Mueller’s family, said that while circumstances surrounding Mueller’s death are unclear, it’s OK with her.

“It’s really about what’s next and what’s before us,” she said. “I’m sure our government will be trying to come to those conclusions. It’s all going to be speculation. There’s probably no way for us to ever have fully the truth.”

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