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1 year later: Friends and family gather to remember the life of Anastasia Hamilton

Loved ones of Hamilton gathered in Amherst Monday evening to remember her.

AMHERST, Ohio — In May of 2022, 25-year-old Anastasia Hamilton was last seen on surveillance footage in a parking garage in downtown Cleveland. Days later, her body was found in a vacant home in the Slavic Village neighborhood. On Monday, her family and loved ones gathered where she’s buried in Amherst to remember her, laying down flowers and embracing one another.

On May 21st, 2022, Hamilton was pictured on surveillance in the Terminal Tower parking garage on West Superior with a man. On May 25, her body was found by passers-by in a vacant home in Slavic Village, with lacerations and abrasions over her head, torso, and limbs, according to officials.

On January 3, 34-year-old Kenneth Banville was indicted on multiple charges in connection to Hamilton’s death, including involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, corrupting another with drugs, among other charges.

Hamilton’s friends tell 3News they want to remember her for the spontaneous, goofy, empathetic friend that she was, rather than by what happened to her. 

“She’s so much bigger than this whole story about her, and that’s how I really want her to be remembered,” said friend Samantha Neel. “She was lovable and fun, and that’s how I want her to be remembered. And, like I said, she could see if someone was suffering and if she could help them, she would, without any hesitation at all.”

“I want to remember her as the happy, good fierce, loyal, trustworthy, hilarious human that she was, and I don’t want to think about anything bad that could have happened to her,” said friend Rachael McDonald.

Neel said she had been texting with Hamilton on the day she was last seen, and said not knowing where she was when she had just been talking to her was “the most helpless feeling that I really wouldn’t wish upon anybody.”

Neel’s friendship with Hamilton began their sophomore year of high school. Today, she holds memories of Hamilton near, like their spontaneous trip to Niagara Falls, or the way she said Hamilton would anonymously pay for dinner if she saw an elderly person eating out alone.

“She just had a very contagious laugh, if she was laughing, everybody was laughing,” Neel said.

Hamilton’s sense of humor is also one of the things McDonald remembers about Hamilton, who she met in middle school.

“There wasn’t a day where we weren’t together,” she remembers of their friendship growing up. “If she was going somewhere, it was implied that I was going, and vice versa. Literally joined at the hip from then on out.”

Both women hope that something like what happened to their best friend never happens to anybody else.

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office tells 3News Banville’s trial has been continued to June 21.

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