Victim had worked to reduce violence against women

Family, friends and educators on Saturday remembered Jana Mackey as a passionate and motivated woman who was dedicated to community service.

Mackey, 25, of Hays, was found dead Thursday inside a home at 409 Mich.

She was a second-year law student at Kansas University.

“Everybody that knew her … is really going to miss her,” said Beth Cateforis, a Kansas University clinical associate professor.

Mackey was a devoted advocate for women’s rights and worked in the Statehouse as a lobbyist, said Sylvie Rueff, who worked with her in the National Organization for Women, where Mackey was dedicated to reducing violence against women.

“It appears now she’s been the ultimate victim,” Rueff said. “I really could not believe she got killed because she was just such a remarkable woman.”

Sarah Jane Russell, executive director of the Ga Du Gi Safe Center, said Mackey worked as volunteer advocate for the nonprofit organization that provides support for survivors of sexual assault.

“Advocates are people who are on call 24/7 … they do the front-line work with victims; they’re the ones who have heart. It takes a heart, and it takes being honey on steel, and she had that … she had everything, and above all she had compassion for others,” Russell said.

Mackey was still on the list of advocates but was on hiatus during law school, Russell said.

“There are no answers. There are a thousand questions, and there always are when it involves domestic violence and sexual assault issues,” Russell said.

Mackey was enrolled this summer in the Paul E. Wilson Defender Project at KU, where she represented federal prisoners in appellate and post-conviction litigation in state and federal courts.

“I think we have pictures of her dog up in our workroom,” said Cateforis, supervising attorney for the Defender Project. “It’s going to be very weird to clean up after her. I really don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Cateforis said Mackey was vibrant and had a lovely sense of humor.

“She was a pleasure,” Cateforis said. “I always looked forward to walking into class and seeing her smile and hearing what she had to say or hearing her big laugh.”

Mackey also was a singer and actress, receiving honors as an undergraduate for her theater performances. She was also given several scholarships for her law school work.