Family and friends of Liliya Guyvoronsky send up white balloons at a vigil held outside her home on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Seattle, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Family and friends of Liliya Guyvoronsky send up white balloons at a vigil held outside her home on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Seattle, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Vigil honors woman, 20, allegedly killed by Bothell ex-council member

Dozens gathered in a south Seattle neighborhood to honor Liliya Guyvoronsky. “She was my twin flame,” a friend said.

BOTHELL — Strong. Funny. Passionate. A child of God.

These were the words loved one used at a vigil Tuesday to remember Liliya Guyvoronsky, a 20-year-old woman found strangled to death in her Seattle home earlier this month.

“She was my twin flame,” close friend Madison Darner said. “She was that girl that you find in high school when you’re young and nobody else understands you. You and her do it against the world.”

Madison Darner, a high school friend of Liliya Guyvoronsky, speaks during a vigil held on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Seattle, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Madison Darner, a high school friend of Liliya Guyvoronsky, speaks during a vigil held on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Seattle, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Prosecutors charged former Bothell City Council member James McNeal, 58, with second-degree murder in her death this month in King County Superior Court. McNeal and Guyvoronsky met while she worked as a stripper, according to charging papers.

On Tuesday night, candles lit up a quiet south Seattle road as dozens gathered in front of Guyvoronsky’s home. Some dropped off bouquets of flowers. Others held on to each other in silence. Outside the front gate, white candles were arranged to spell “Lily.”

Organizers held the event as a call to action for violence against sex workers and domestic violence.

“The center of our mission is to ensure our community is granted the same dignity and compassion as others, that we are seen as whole people,” Strippers Are Workers spokesperson Madison Zack-Wu said Tuesday. “In order to celebrate Lily, we must see her as a full person, not just separate parts or labels.”

Members of Guyvoronsky’s church led the group in prayer and eulogy.

Bowls of flower petals sat on the concrete. Attendees were encouraged to grab a handful, think of a memory with Guyvoronsky and let it go. Trails of petals sprawled out on the road.

People spread flower petals on the ground after during a vigil held in memory of Liliya Guyvoronsky on Tuesday, May 14, 2024 in Seattle, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

People spread flower petals on the ground after during a vigil held in memory of Liliya Guyvoronsky on Tuesday, May 14, 2024 in Seattle, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Guyvoronsky’s parents described McNeal and Guyvoronsky’s relationship as on-again, off-again, according to police.

Guyvoronsky eventually stopped working during their relationship, the charges say. McNeal, a longtime construction project manager, reportedly started giving her about $10,000 per month.

On April 27, they broke up after a fight over expenses, Guyvoronsky’s parents told police. She told her parents that McNeal had an “annoying tantrum” and tried to control her, according to the charges.

Three days after that breakup, McNeal’s then-attorney Jan Olson called 911 around 4 p.m. to report a “likely homicide” in Guyvoronsky’s south Seattle home. Officers found the woman in her bed. It appeared she had been deceased “for some time,” according to a police report.

She did not appear to have any injuries that would have caused her to lose blood, police said. Officers transported McNeal to the hospital with self-inflicted wounds. He was later booked into jail in King County.

“I’m feeling a lot of anger and stuff about how it happened,” friend Rita Marchuk said Tuesday. “Hoping justice will be served, and the guy will not get out of this.”

A photo of Liliya Guyvoronsky, 20, is set up outside her home during a vigil held on Tuesday, May 14, 2024 in Seattle, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A photo of Liliya Guyvoronsky, 20, is set up outside her home during a vigil held on Tuesday, May 14, 2024 in Seattle, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

This week, Olson’s paralegal told The Daily Herald their office no longer represents McNeal. He is now represented by attorney Alexander Berstein, according to court records.

He remained behind bars this week with bail set at $3 million.

McNeal served on the Bothell City Council for eight years before losing to Mayor Mason Thompson in November by a margin of 63% to 37%. He served on 11 regional boards, including city committees for transportation, land conservation, and diversity and equity.

As she moves forward without her friend, Darner hopes to educate people about keeping women and sex workers safe.

On Tuesday, attendees released balloons in the shape of white doves into the sky.

“I always believed she was going to do something really great in life,” Marchuk said. “Anything she tried she succeeded. Just a really, really bright girl.”

Maya Tizon: 425-339-3434; maya.tizon@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @mayatizon.

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