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Vigil is held for BU grad missing since early February

Keith Munsell lit a candle for Allison Bitto at a vigil for his son Eric Munsell, who disappeared three weeks ago. Others at the vigil in Boston on Saturday held signs with photos of Eric.

Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

Keith Munsell lit a candle for Allison Bitto at a vigil for his son Eric Munsell, who disappeared three weeks ago.

More than 50 friends and relatives gathered near Boston Harbor Saturday night, bearing candles in memory of, and hope for, Eric Munsell, who has been missing for three weeks.

The emotional crowd, holding signs and guarding their candles from the wind, formed around a lectern overlooking the New England Aquarium on State Street, one of Munsell’s favorite places, according to his father, Keith Munsell.

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“It’s just been an awesome response, and it’s obvious that Eric has had an impact on many, many people,” he said . “It’s made it a little easier to go through this and come up with some positive outcomes.”

The 24-year-old, who graduated from Boston University in 2012, was last seen heading for the Market Lounge in the Financial District on Feb. 8 to celebrate his birthday with some friends, according to his mother, Mary Lynn Mills. Mills said she spoke with him just a few hours before his disappearance. His credit cards and cellphone have not been active since that Saturday night.

Others at the vigil in Boston on Saturday held signs with photos of Eric.

Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

Others at the vigil in Boston on Saturday held signs with photos of Eric.

He was last seen around 11:30 p.m. wearing a blue checkered shirt and blue jeans, and was described by police as 6-foot-1; 180 pounds; with brown hair, brown eyes; and a scar on his left cheek.

Munsell’s father thanked everyone for their help and said, “Eric is the most responsible, caring kid you’ll ever meet, and he’s just not going to walk away from his friends without telling anyone where he is.”

Dressed in a Red Sox championship hat and Red Sox sweatshirt, Munsell shared stories and memories of his son, such as the first game they attended at Fenway and their latest outing to watch the team in October. He also shared a story of a man who was rescued by authorities who were searching for Eric on Feb. 10.

“Just looking for Eric, [police] located a man who had just fallen into the Boston Harbor and while they were looking for him, he was rescued. He was pulled out of the harbor by a detective and he’s going to be fine,” he said. “I honestly believe Eric was a part of that. It’s just the kind of thing he would do.”

Munsell said the last video footage of his son was taken close to the location of the vigil, and said he may have fallen into the harbor. The spot was also Eric’s favorite place to come and think, according to his father.

“Unfortunately, there’s a reasonable chance that he ended up in the water behind me, so we’re having the vigil at this location,” he said.

Two of Munsell’s friends also spoke.

“I don’t think there’s anything I can say that can truly explain what an amazing person Eric is,” said Allison Bitto, 23. “He’s the most genuinely compassionate person I’ve ever met. He has this amazing ability to talk to anyone he meets, and they instantly fall in love with him.”

A moment of silence was held for Munsell as the waves lapped softly at the walls of the dock on State Street.

“The story isn’t over today,” Munsell said. “Even if it’s true that Eric is gone, I’m sure by watching this group of people gather around for him that he’s smiling at you. . . . All we can do is pray for another miracle like the man pulled out of the harbor.”

Derek J. Anderson can be reached at derek.anderson@globe.com.

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