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An Illinois teacher’s aide who vanished while on a forest walk with her mother and a friend has been found in the area strangled to death.
Vanessa Ceja Ramirez, 22, of Harvey, was walking in the Midlothian Meadows Forest Preserve on Monday with her mother and a friend when she decided to turn back and return to their car alone, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. She’s been missing ever since. While investigative dogs picked up her scent on Monday evening, the scent trail dissipated, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office told Oxygen.com in an email statement.
Another search of the forest, located in a suburb south of Chicago, on Wednesday afternoon ended in the tragic discovery of Ramirez’s body in a wooded area, according to the sheriff’s office statement.
An autopsy conducted on Thursday determined she died of strangulation. Her death has been ruled a homicide, according to the sheriff's office.
Ramirez is being remembered as both a beloved teacher's aide and a college student.
"She's just somebody that we believed in, that had our future in her hands, just like most of our kids here," Alejandro Villegas, her uncle, told local outlet WLS. "She was a sweet child that was humble, smiled, shy. She was a good person. And she just didn't deserve anything of this."
No suspects or persons of interest have been identified in connection with Ramirez's death. An investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Cook County Sheriff’s Office at 708-865-4896. Community activist Andrew Holmes told WLS that there is already a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
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