ISRAELI-BORN academic Lily Pereg has been remembered as “a kind and generous person” and having “the soul of an angel”.
The bodies of Pereg, 54, an associate professor of microbiology at the University of New England (UNE) in Armidale, and her Israeli sister Pyrhia Sarusi, 63, were found buried under debris on the property of Sarusi’s son, Gilad Pereg, in the Argentinian city of Mendoza on Saturday.
The sisters had been missing since January 12 after travelling to Argentina to visit Gilad, who has been charged with their murders.
Reports indicate the sisters’ bodies were found badly mutilated.
Lily Pereg’s partner, John Finlay, told 7 News on Monday, “Lily was a beautiful soul and I probably will never find someone as loving as Lily again … I miss her, I just miss her. She had the soul of an angel.”
UNE vice-chancellor Professor Annabelle Duncan said the university community “was rocked” by the news.
“Lily was known as a kind and generous person who always made the time to guide and mentor her students and colleagues alike,” Duncan said.
“Many of our staff and students will have known and/or worked with Lily, making this a very personal loss and a deeply emotional time.”
Following the discovery of the bodies, a GoFundMe page that had been set up by family to raise funds to search for the women was updated to read,
“We the family, are shocked. We are humbled by the outpouring of support and love, worldwide. Your love carried us and will help us recover from a huge tragedy. There will never be an explanation.”
Pereg moved to Australia in the mid-1990s. She completed a PhD at the University of Sydney in 1998 before moving to Armidale in 1999.
She joined UNE in 2001 where she taught microbiology, biochemistry and biotechnology. She was was held in high esteem by colleagues and students alike as a committed and dedicated academic, the university said.
The sisters’ bodies are expected to be flown to Israel for burial next week.