Dozens attend self-defense workshop in memory of Vanessa Marcotte

BOSTON — A sold-out self-defense workshop on Sunday morning celebrated the life of Vanessa Marcotte, the 27-year-old woman murdered while out for a jog near her family home in Princeton in August 2016.

The workshop, named "STRIKE for Vanessa" was held by the Vanessa T. Marcotte Foundation at Boston University and featured celebrity trainer Avital Zeisler and her Soteria Methor, a unique practice that consists of self-defense, fitness, and empowerment for women.

For Marcotte's family members, her spirit is alive in the room as her memory continues to make an impact on other women's lives.

"Hopefully they won't have to use any of the techniques that they learn but I hope they really understand this can happen, murder is rare but assault isn't," said Caroline Tocci, Vanessa's cousin.

The first annual strike for the Vanessa workshop was held this Sunday as a way for the young woman's memory to make an impact and help other women prevent assault.

The 27-year-old was out for a jog in 2016 near her family home when a man posing as a stranded motorist sexually assaulted and strangled her. Eight months later, authorities charged Angelo Colon Ortiz, a FedEx delivery contractor, with the crime.

"It's been difficult to put this all together in the public lens but that’s where we lean on each other as family, as friends, and just combine all of our energy into the Vanessa T. Marcotte Foundation," said Tocci.

In the time since her death, the family established the Vanessa T. Marcotte Foundation, dedicated to arming women with tools to defend themselves - like today's workshop - making sure Vanessa's mission continues.

"The event sold out with more than 450 women showing up to learn self-defense," said Tocci.