The death of a bright, promising young woman at Delaware Valley College still is under investigation, and it may be several weeks before authorities determine how she died.
Gabrielle Hillman, 21, was discovered in her dorm room at the small college in Doylestown on Oct. 8. She was laid to rest on Tuesday after a funeral Mass at the Church of Saint Rose in her hometown of Belmar, NJ.
While her family, friends and classmates try to come to grips with their loss, investigators in Bucks County still are trying to determine how she died.
Bucks County Coroner Dr. Robert Campbell said this week that his office is awaiting the results of toxicology and other lab results.
"That's going to be probably another three weeks or so before I get those back," Campbell told Doylestown Patch.
On the night of Hillman's death, Doylestown Borough Police Lt. Pat Penecale said there were no indications of either foul play or suicide in the young woman's death.
Hillman was a senior at DelVal and would have graduated in the spring. Studying small animal science, she could be found on most weekends volunteering at the Associated Humane Society animal shelter in Tinton Falls, NJ. She had hoped to continue working with rescued animals after she graduated, according to her obituary.
"The animal world lost their very special advocate, and we all mourn your passing," a friend and fellow volunteer wrote in Hillman's guest book.
"It's sad and hard to believe," Lindsay Papa, who works at the animal shelter where Hillman volunteered, told Patch. "She was a young, bright girl with a long future ahead of her."
The day after Hillman's death, DelVal students donned school shirts and gathered in her memory at a candlelight vigil on campus. They remembered a happy young woman who always seemed to have a smile on her face.
"We could not be more proud of our students for the way they have come together to support each other," said Annmarie Ely, a spokeswoman for the college.
Messages of support flowed in to the college's Facebook page and another page set up in Hillman's memory. Ely said alumni from around the country expressed condolences, including all the DelVal alumni at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, on the island of St. Kitts in the West Indies, who wore their DelVal shirts in Hillman's honor.
Known to her friends as Gaby, Hillman is survived by her father, Joseph Hillman Jr. and her sister, Elizabeth Grace Hillman. Her mother, Carol Rose Hillman, preceded her in death, in April 2012.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggested donations in Gabrielle's name be made to the Humane Society of Tinton Falls or to St. Rose High School, of Belmar, NJ. Hillman graduated from St. Rose in 2009.