Tuesday's news that Mary Kay Letourneau had died at the age of 58 shocked the nation. Letourneau had gained national infamy in the late '90s and early 2000s after she was convicted of raping her former sixth-grade student, Vili Fualaau, whom she later married and welcomed two children with. Here's everything that you need to know about Letourneau's death.
Letourneau, 58, died Monday of stage 4 cancer, her attorney, David Gerke, confirmed to multiple news outlets. The 58-year-old passed away in her home surrounded by family, including Fualaau who was giving her 24-hour care the last month of her life, CNN reported. Her family later confirmed her passing in a statement to writer Danielle Bacher, in which they said that she had "fought tirelessly against this terrible disease." The family added that they "found great strength in having our immediate and extended family members together to join her in this arduous struggle" and they "did our very best to care for Mary and one another as we kept her close and stayed close together."
Here is an EXCLUSIVE statement given to me by the Letourneau and Fualaau families about the passing of Mary Kay Letourneau. pic.twitter.com/YFliUbejpv— Danielle Bacher (@DBacherwrites) July 8, 2020
Two sources close to the former teacher told PEOPLE that Letourneau had been quietly battling the disease for several months, though her health began to deteriorate in recent weeks. One source said that it was "a very sad ending," as Letourneau had lost weight and was constantly tired in her final weeks of life. Another source told the outlet that after first being diagnosed, "the talk was that she was going to beat it, that even though the prognosis wasn't good, that she'd fight with everything she had, and that she had a shot of surviving it." However, "as things got into the springtime, the thinking was that she was going to need a miracle."
According to Gerke, who had represented her throughout her case, Fualaau had picked up his life to be at Letourneau's side throughout her battle, despite that they had divorced. Gerke told Today that Fualaau "moved back from California, gave up his life there, and for the last two months of Mary's life he stood by her 24/7 taking care of her." He said that despite their separation, "they were always in love with each other," and Fualaau's presence throughout her final weeks "meant the world to" Letourneau.
A source told PEOPLE that Fualaau "lost a piece of himself" when Letourneau passed, adding that her death is "a big loss for him." The source said that the former couple "said everything they needed to say" to each other before Letourneau died.