The Collegian
Wednesday, September 28, 2022

8:15 employee found dead in hotel stairwell

Zaundra "ZiZi" Gray, a lead barista at the 8:15 at Boatwright coffee shop in the Boatwright Memorial Library, was found dead in a Midlothian hotel stairwell last Friday. She was 40.

Police have called Gray's death suspicious. An employee of the InTown Suites Hotel at 11551 Green Spring Rd., about a 15 minute drive from campus, found Gray's body around 7 a.m. Friday. Gray lived at the 10000 block of Garfield Road in Richmond, about three miles from the hotel.

Anne Williams, a spokeswoman for the Chesterfield County Police, declined to comment further because the investigation is ongoing, and it remains unclear when the police will issue more information.

The office of President Edward Ayers sent a university-wide e-mail yesterday to inform faculty, staff and students about the death. The e-mail said funeral service arrangement details were not available.

Gray's supervisor, Maya Vincelli, manager of 8:15, spoke with Gray briefly on Thursday night. Vincelli said she was informed on Friday afternoon about her death.

"I was in shock initially and in a state of disbelief," she wrote in an e-mail interview. "It is very tragic, and she is already really missed."

Gray was outgoing and fun and never hesitated to ask questions or help out where she could, Vincelli said.

"She was incredibly warm and spoke lovingly about her young daughter often," she said. "ZiZi was very independent and was kind and good-natured. We clicked immediately. She really had a way of getting along with people and fit into the cafe family quickly during her short employment here."

Vincelli said she has received dozens of e-mails from students, staff members and parents about her death. Coffee shop employees have been particularly tired and stressed because this is the busiest time of the year, Vincelli said.

"We are a tight-knit bunch, and it really meant a lot to me to see everyone pull together so quickly and fully," she said.

Vincelli said she and several other people were gathering Christmas gifts for Gray's family.

Anyone with information about the case should contact the Chesterfield County Police Department at 804-748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660.

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