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Hundreds gather for vigil in hometown of Jennifer Houle, missing U of M student

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The search continues for Jennifer Houle, a University of Minnesota student who went missing from a bar early Friday morning.

An estimated 250 friends and family held a vigil Sunday night in her hometown to pray for her safe return, according to the Pioneer Press. On a Facebook page detailing the event, others said they would join the vigil from afar.

The 22-year-old from Stillwater was last seen at Blarney Bar in Dinkytown between 1 and 2 a.m. Friday.

Police say her purse was recovered at 3 a.m. that morning a few blocks away from the bar.

A man who identified himself as Houle's uncle, but did not give his name, welcomed the crowd to the vigil.

"We are a Catholic family, and we believe in the power of prayer," he said, according to the Pioneer Press. "We are praying for Jennifer's safe return."

One of her former teachers, Darrell Salmi, described Houle as "a superstar," saying she is "kindhearted, outgoing, compassionate and intelligent."

Police tell the Star Tribune they are working on several theories. Friends said Houle did not usually cut off contact with them after a night out.

The U released a statement saying it is working with law enforcement and is offering counseling and support for other students.

The university also asks the public to respect the privacy of Houle's family, friends and sorority sisters.

Houle is a senior at the U of M's Carlson School of Management and is a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority. KSTP reports security is posted outside the sorority house.

Anyone with information about Houle's disappearance is asked to call 911 or text the police department's anonymous tip line at 847 411, entering MPD and the information.

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