Kyllo, a freshman from Vienna, Va., was found in her Forbes College dorm room by Public Safety officers, who responded to a call from a Forbes student around 8 a.m. Princeton Borough police and the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad also responded. Kyllo was found dead when Borough police arrived, police Capt. Nick Sutter said.
Family and friends described Kyllo as a young woman who was always positive, exhibited a lighthearted sense of humor, and was fiercely loyal to her friends and devoted to her teammates. And despite an illness that began a year ago, Kyllo approached every endeavor with enthusiasm.
Her parents, Thomas and Julie Kyllo, were among the 150 people who gathered Thursday night in Murray-Dodge Hall, surrounded by candles, to remember Khristin’s life. Both spoke of their daughter’s love of her Princeton experience.
“The last four months really were the happiest months of Khristin’s life,” Thomas Kyllo said. “She just always wanted to be with a group of girls like her [softball] team at Princeton.”
Khristin Kyllo began experiencing unexplained seizures during her senior year of high school. But she refused to let the illness constrain her life, and she came to Princeton with an enthusiasm that teammates and friends say they will never forget.
She treated her condition with the same humor that she brought to conversations in the dorm and locker room.
The illness “never seemed to really bother her,” Thomas Kyllo said. “She just never let it get her down.”
Her parents thanked students from what they described as Khristin’s two families on campus: the softball team and her hallmates in Forbes.
Kyllo was “always the one who would be saying something funny,” said friend and teammate Maddie Cousens ’14, who said she “really bonded” with Kyllo on a softball recruiting trip to Princeton during their senior year of high school.
Her friends in Forbes echoed Kyllo’s teammates. “I could not have asked for a better roommate; I loved her so much,” Jasmine Blocker ’14 said at the gathering.
In a lighter moment, Kyllo’s parents recounted what it was like cleaning up their daughter’s side of the room.
“Anyone who’s missing anything, Khristin had a bad habit of acquiring people’s clothing,” Thomas Kyllo said to laughter.
Kyllo was known for her quirkier moments. “Her dramatic reading of Cosmo’s horoscopes at the most recent study break was both awkward and ridiculous,” Simon Krauss ’11, her residential college adviser, said in an e-mail.
Friends said they also admired Kyllo’s energetic approach to life.
“Nothing and no one scared her,” Eliza Harkins ’14, who lived next door to Kyllo, said in an e-mail. “She would attack every aspect of her life with a verve and vivacity that few others could match.”
Kyllo was a “wonderful human being and a joy to be around,” Kanwal Matharu ’13 said in an e-mail.
“Her positive energy was absolutely infectious,” he added. “She was loved, and she will always be remembered. Her life should inspire all of us to be strong in the face of difficulties and keep life in perspective.”
Eskender McCoy ’14 said in an e-mail that his biggest regret is having not told her “how glad I was to have her in my life as one of my friends.”
He added: “So I just want to say to all Princeton students: Next chance you are with your friends, just turn to them and let them know that you are glad to have them. Because nothing lasts forever, and sometimes things are a lot shorter than you expected them to be.”
Julia Marsh ’14 said that, in remembering Kyllo, "We're literally crying one minute and laughing the next ... there are so many funny stories about her."
"In four months she became one of my best friends — I was as close to her as I am with some of my friends I've known for years," Marsh added. "She knew things about me that no one else knows."
President Shirley Tilghman addressed Kyllo’s death in a statement on the University website: “I know I speak for our entire University community when I extend my heartfelt sympathy to Khristin’s family, friends and classmates. When faced with unexpected and untimely losses such as this, we must look to one another for strength and comfort, while reaching out to those whose grief is greatest.”
Since her senior year at James Madison High School, Kyllo had experienced a number of seizures that puzzled doctors. Kyllo also dealt with memory loss that made her classes difficult, but high school basketball coach Kirsten Stone helped her relearn core material.
“We were together a lot, and I probably saw her more than her teachers or her parents during the basketball season,” Stone said. “It’s a rough loss.”
Matt Grabowski ’11, who profiled Kyllo for a journalism class this semester, said that he was struck by her courage.
When Grabowski asked Kyllo about her decision to enroll, given the uncertainty of her medical condition, she told him, “I was not going to let seizures keep me from coming to Princeton and playing.”
Counseling and Psychological Services staff arrived at Forbes immediately after Public Safety responded to the call to provide support for members of the residential college community. Counselors will continue to be available to students through University Health Services.
The Mercer County medical examiner will conduct an autopsy today and announce an official cause of death, spokesman Pete Daly said.
Kyllo is survived by her parents and her younger brother, Tommy.
— Staff writer Ben Kotopka and senior writer Rachel Jackson contributed reporting.
Editor's Note: The Mercer County medical examiner concluded on Jan. 14 that Khristin Kyllo died of natural causes. The online version of this article also includes additional comments from Kyllo's friends.