The heartbroken parents of murdered SUNY Potsdam student Elizabeth Howell say their daughter was likely a random victim in the “wrong place, wrong time” when she was shot just outside campus.
“She was the kind of person who had no enemies, and certainly no one who would want to kill her. As soon as they told us, we thought the wrong place at the wrong time,” her father said. Joe Howell to the Post in a moving interview at the family home in Patterson, New York.
Elizabeth, 21, was found lying on the side of College Park Road with gunshot wounds, according to state police. She was a senior music education student who performed in the school’s Crane Symphony Orchestra.
Howell and his wife Ann said their daughter was a very active member of her community, teaching swimming, lifeguarding and cello while dancing ballet and playing solo in orchestras.
“She is a wonderful young woman, a talented musician, a dear friend, a wonderful person in every way. She was always ready to help you,” her father said.
His wife Ann called Elizabeth his “friend and daughter”.
“She was very empathetic, empathetic – compassionate, that’s the word. He was a good person, a strong person,” Ann Howell said. “She had so much innate talent.”
The Howells are also both musicians; Ann plays the clarinet and Joe plays the French horn.
Elizabeth was one of four siblings, her parents said. Speaking through tears, the couple said they were supported by a strong community.
“It was very difficult. But we have a strong community base, and we have good friends and strong family. It doesn’t make it easier, but it helps,” Ann said.
SUNY Potsdam canceled classes for Monday and also canceled or postponed various activities as the campus mourns Howell’s death. The school’s Crane School of Music Concert Hall has been designated as a memorial space for the campus.
Suspect Michael Snow, 31, of Massena, New York, was arrested on Saturday and charged with second-degree murder, police say.
The school said Snow had “no affiliation” with the college. It is not known if he and Elizabeth knew each other.