Shannon Jones. Courtesy of Facebook

Ithaca, N.Y. — Shannon Jones could dance. She could think. She was a great friend.

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The 23-year-old Cornell senior was found dead in a Cayuga Heights home on Thanksgiving Day.

“It’s devastating for everyone involved,” said Yashvardhan Rathore, a friend of Jones. “She was very kind. She was very intelligent.”

Benjamin Cayea, 32, has been charged with murder in the second degree in connection with Jones’ death. He is in jail.

Full police account of arrest, charges

Shannon Jones. Courtesy of Facebook
Shannon Jones. Courtesy of Facebook

Jones was from Montgomery County in the Washington, D.C., area. A news segment on ABC 7 noted that Jones was in the Spanish club, the choir and worked in theater while at Winston Churchill High School.

Shannon Jones’ brother John Jones spoke to the TV station about his sister’s sudden death.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” John Jones said about the death of his only sibling.

“You don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone.”

Shannon Jones was a wonderful, bright, upbeat person, her brother said.

“She did what she wanted to do,” John Jones told ABC 7. “She had her idea of what was right — of what she should do and what should be done. And that’s what she did.”

ABC 7 also spoke with Shannon Jones’ former teacher, Scott Selman.

“She was an amazing leader,” Selman said. “Conforming to what other people want you to do is just not necessary … and she was definitely one of those people who broke the norms and wanted to march to her own drum beat.”

Cornell President David Skorton highlighted Jones’ eclectic talents in a message to the university. He noted that the independent major in the engineering college was both in a belly dance troupe and a part of Professor Mason Peck’s Violet student satellite project.

“Shannon, you will be missed so dearly by your Teszia family, as well as by everyone who was lucky enough to see you grace the stage,” the Teszia Belly Dance Troupe said on its Facebook page today.

“We know you will be with us whenever we dance. Rest in peace, beautiful Shannon.”

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Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.