Clutching a tissue, her eyes filled with tears, Sujata Dabe paid her respects to 18-year-old Kyle Underhill on Friday, remembering him as "the life of the party."
Dabe and Underhill attended middle school together, and she said at Underhill's wake that her classmate never missed an opportunity to inject humor into a situation.
"Everybody is really, really sad," said Dabe, 18, a college student in Florida.
The mystery surrounding his death hung over the gathering. Suffolk County police have said Underhill was a homicide victim, but no suspects have been arrested.
Police found his body in a marsh behind Commack Road Elementary School early on Nov. 19. His parents had reported him missing two days earlier.
Investigators have released few details, including how the teenager was killed.
He was bright, and when he spoke "you could tell he knew a lot," Mauro recalled.
Underhill was eager to share his knowledge, other classmates said.
"He made you feel smart," said Bree D'Allegro, 18, of Seaford, another college classmate. "He was really nice."
Underhill grabbed the attention of graduating seniors and teachers at Islip High School with his yearbook quote, friends said. It read, in part, "I don't think I've ever known so many people I hated so much all at once."
Police say they're including Underhill's "high school background" as part of the homicide investigation.
Friends and people who worked with Underhill described him Friday as hardworking and friendly.
"He was a model for your own child," Factor said.
A funeral home spokesman said Underhill's parents were too upset to comment.