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— Dozens huddled at dusk Sunday around a candlelit photograph of Theresa DeKeyzer to remember the slain 22-year-old — and to warn others about the often silent danger of domestic violence.

Police say DeKeyzer was killed by her boyfriend, Scott Wobbe, 37, who was charged earlier this month with first-degree murder, kidnapping and disinterment of a body.

DeKeyzer, known as "Tree" to family and friends, was reported missing June 19. Friends and family peppered the area near her Warren home with fliers, but there were no leads until a Sept. 4 Detroit News story prompted two tipsters to phone police and direct them to a Plymouth Township storage lot.

On Sept. 18, police found DeKeyzer's remains inside a 55-gallon drum stored in a utility trailer owned by Wobbe but not registered to him that was parked in the lot.

"My sister was murdered, and her body was discarded like trash," Leah DeKeyzer, 27, said through tears during the gathering in Lake St. Clair Metropark on Sunday. "I recently got engaged ... and Theresa doesn't get to dance at my wedding."

Marie DeKeyzer said family didn't know there were problems with her daughter's boyfriend until after she was reported missing.

"There was no indication anything was wrong, but then when Theresa was missing, her roommate told me (Wobbe) had hit her," she said.

Victoria Hargan, who organized the event, which also included a "zombie run," said families of domestic violence victims often don't know about the abuse. She also said it's not easy for victims to leave abusive relationships.

"People always say, 'Why don't you just leave?' But it's not as easy as that," said Hargan, a forensic behavioral health specialist who also was a domestic abuse victim.

Amber Wald, who also spoke during the vigil, said her friend's slaying prompted her to leave an abusive relationship.

"I saw what happened to her and thought, 'This is what going to happen to me,' " she said.

Wald said she had no idea her friend was having problems with her boyfriend, but said she understands why she kept it a secret.

"You get stuck," she said. "It's not just something you can get out of; it sucks you in in a weird kind of way."

Hargan's organization, the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Research Institute, helps domestic violence victims with counseling, group therapy and other assistance. She said she didn't know Theresa DeKeyzer, although her children went to school with her.

"The family will go through a multitude of things," Hargan said. "Something like this can affect an entire family, and we need to make sure they get access to all the help they can get."

ghunter@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2134

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