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Family, friends, strangers gather to remember Andreen McDonald

SAN ANTONIO – A memorial was erected Sunday night not far from where the remains of a local businesswoman were found Thursday.

Family, friends and strangers gathered at West Specht Road on Sunday night to remember Andreen McDonald, the 29-year-old businesswoman investigators believe was murdered by her husband, Andre McDonald.

The vigil and memorial come as Andre McDonald sits behind bars at the Bexar County Jail, charged with murder and tampering with evidence in his wife's death.

Although the discovery of the remains and subsequent arrest brings closure to Andreen McDonald's family and members of the community who have been searching for her since she was reported missing March 1, it also brings sadness.

Hyacinth Maureen Smith, Andreen McDonald's mother, wept among those who gathered Sunday to remember her daughter. Andreen McDonald's cousin, Cheryl Spencer, also attended.

"(Andreen McDonald) made a difference," Spencer told KSAT. "The name of her business is Starlight, and I really feel like a star has been dimmed."

Andreen McDonald came to know and befriend many through the assisted living facilities she owned. 

Trying to make sense of how the mother of one died, Ad Smoot, a minister for the vigil, said "there are people being influenced by spirits that are ungodly, and that is what causes something like this."

A murder warrant for Andre McDonald's arrest states he never once inquired about the investigation into his wife's whereabouts and never offered to help investigators locate her. His arrest came as a relief to Spencer.

"I actually enjoyed him being arrested," Spencer said. "That was nice. I like that little public shaming."

During the vigil, people left flowers at a handmade cross. By the end of the evening, the memorial had grown to several bouquets of purple and white flowers, photos of the fitness enthusiast, an angel figurine and candles. 

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said Saturday that despite Andre McDonald's arrest, the case is still very much open and will not conclude until the case has been adjudicated.

"Whatever happens to him he deserves," one person who attended the vigil said.

Spencer said their family hopes he's held accountable.

"Any ounce of understanding that we had for Andy is gone," Spencer said. "You do not have the right to do this to any human being. Andreen was far from perfect. She had her flaws, but you do not have the right to do this to anybody's child."

Continuing coverage on KSAT.com:

Sheriff: 'Way too early' to tell if human remains belong to Andreen McDonald 

Video shows how drone is helping the search for missing Andreen McDonald 

Husband of missing businesswoman Andreen McDonald makes court appearance 

Group continues search for Andreen McDonald 

Husband of Andreen McDonald released from BCSO custody 

Judge significantly reduces bail for Andreen McDonald's husband 

Andreen McDonald's husband asks for reduction of $2M bail 

Search continues on for Andreen McDonald at Camp Bullis

Local group prepares for new search for Andreen McDonald 

Sheriff Salazar: Medical examiner 'pretty definite' charred remains not those of Andreen McDonald 

Search group hopeful remains found in north Bexar County belong to Andreen McDonald

Reward offered for information in Andreen McDonald case 

Andreen McDonald's husband could face murder charge despite lack of body 

160+ volunteers help search for Andreen McDonald 

Andreen McDonald's mother bracing for worst 

Warrant reveals blood, hair found in bathroom of missing woman's home