It began last Halloween when two Penn State University students, a male and a female, dressed up as April 16 victims.
The costumes drew national attention, raising questions of compassion, citizen's rights, privacy and media's role in society.
"The whole purpose of the costume wasn't meant to hurt anybody. It wasn't meant to be seen by anybody. It wasn't meant to be published," said Nathan Jones, the male student, in an interview with WSLS news station's Lindsay Henley.
He went on to say he and his friends routinely dress up in controversial costumes each Halloween, intending to shock and be seen by only those present. Nearly a month later, the photos surfaced on Facebook, a Web site that has had its own share of privacy issues.
Ken Stanton, a Tech engineering education graduate student, is now the administrator of the group on Facebook called "People Against This Costume." He said that the original administrator resigned due to a large number of harassing e-mails asserting that the creator was only making the situation worse by taking it public.
Stanton took over as administrator for the group and has tried to take an understanding approach to the controversy.
"At first, I was upset just like everyone else, and I said, 'How can I understand how these people could do this?'" Stanton said. "It just made me realize it was not a personal attack on us or on the victims."
Stanton immediately took down the photos and added his own personal statement urging the community to forgive and rise above the actions of the PSU students.
Jessica Maroclo, the female student, issued a public apology via e-mail to WSLS, as well as provided prompt condolences to everyone who sent her emails.
"I am deeply and sincerely sorry. I am sorry for hurting the families of the victims, Virginia Tech students, Penn State students, and my family and friends. Sorry," she wrote.
Jones refused to apologize and cites his right to freedom of speech and expression, saying he does not see the wrong in his actions and should not have to censor himself.
Others, however, did take offense.
On Dec. 13, 2007, Bank of America fired him from his job. The student then posted his costume on eBay, but eBay removed the costume from its Web site shortly thereafter.
Neither Jones nor Maroclo agreed to comment, as both of them claimed to receive harassing e-mails, some from Tech students, and some even life threatening. However, many Tech students and interested citizens are beginning to move past the situation.
"I got 40 or 50 messages saying, 'Thank you for toning this down,'" Stanton said. "I also got a letter from a Penn State official personally thanking me."