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Portage Central grad killed in Nepal described as compassionate young woman

Posted at 9:32 PM, Sep 07, 2015

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- A Kalamazoo woman was beaten to death in Nepal, according to authorities in the region. Dahlia Yehia, 25, was in Nepal volunteering after that country's catastrophic earthquake that killed thousands of people.

Yehia's family said that she went missing in early August. The family posted on social media that the U.S. Embassy in Nepal had informed them that the young art teacher had been killed by a man with whom she was staying.

Portage Central High School principal Eric Alburtus said that Yehia graduated back in 2007 and that eight years later he still vividly remembers her as smart, engaging, and inspiring to those around her.

Alburtus said that he wasn't surprised to learn his former student, Dahlia Yehia took off to the ravaged region of Nepal following a massive earthquake, donating her time to help others. "That's so Dahlia, I mean that is so who she was. And that's genuine. You know, not like calling attention to herself. It was never about her."

"She put herself out there. She took risks," said Alburtus. "Her passion and her passion for other people put her in a place where she was going to do anything she could to help other people."

Yehia's family created a Facebook page in early August after the young art teacher went missing.

"We are devastated by this senseless loss of a beautiful life," the family posted after learning of Yehia's fate. "For those who haven`t had the joy of spending time with Dahlia, know that she is a giver, lover, and humanitarian, who devoted her life to others less fortunate both domestic and abroad."

Police in Nepal said that the suspect admitted to beating Yehia in her sleep on August 4, 2015.

The school where Yehia had been teaching in Austin, Texas, posted photos following her passing: "Please keep Ms. Y's family in your thoughts and prayers as they go through this time of grief and loss."

"She was incredibly compassionate, cared a great deal for the people around her but carried life lightly, and that is a pretty exceptional mix of characteristics," said Alburtus.

Kalamazoo College, where she graduated with a degree in art in 2011, wrote, "Our thoughts and condolences go out to Dahlia`s friends and family during this difficult time."

Principal Alburtus said that Yehia would want her memory to be kept alive through public service. "If we do that, then Dahlia would be very proud of us," he said.

Investigators said that Yehia met the suspect on a "couch surfing" website, and that he said he was a part of the earthquake relief program.

Her body has not yet been recovered.