A Wisconsin morning news presenter and former college basketball player has died suddenly at the age of 27 in an apparent suicide. Neena Pacholke a morning news anchor at WAOW-TVin Wausau, Wisconsin died on Saturday, according to Tampa Bay Times. on Saturday at the age of 27. Her death was confirmed by her younger sister Kaitlynn Pacholke.
Pacholke's death has left her family and colleagues stunned, and she was remembered for her contagious smile and happy-go-lucky demeanor. The Wausau Police Department and Marathon County Medical Examiner's Office are investigating her death, Captain Ben Graham of Wausau Police Department tells E! News. It is not known what led her to commit suicide.
Kaitlynn, Neena's younger sister and an assistant women's basketball coach at Southern Mississippi, confirmed her older sibling took her own life. "My sister was by far the happiest person I thought I knew," Kaitlynn said. "Sometimes you just don't know what people are going through, no matter how much you think you know someone.
"My sister had access to every resource you could imagine. She was loved by everybody. She was so good at her job."
"She was just like a little ball of sunshine, and her smile was massive," Kaitlynn said on Monday morning. "My sister was by far the happiest person I thought I knew."
It is not known what led Neena to commit suicide. Police have launched an investigation and more details are to be shared.
"Wausau Police Department Officers were dispatched to a home on Wausau's southeast side Saturday morning to check the welfare of a woman who reportedly made suicidal statements," he said. "After receiving no answer at the door, officers entered the home and found Pacholke deceased."
The police agency states that there is no indication of foul play as of now. The cause of death has not been confirmed by police, and no other information was provided.
A Lot of Mystery
While working in Wisconsin, Neena developed a passion for the Green Bay Packers, and according to her sister Kaitlynn, she also discovered skiing. The two sisters were both point guards and teammates on the Freedom High School basketball squad, which was coached by their mother, Laurie.
Before Neena moved on to play for USF in 2014, the two sisters assisted in guiding the squad to its lone state tournament berth in 2013.
Neena was a 3-point specialist who was a part of two teams that advanced to March Madness, despite the fact that she played only a few games throughout her three seasons with the Bulls.
According to Kaitlynn, Neena, who was born and raised in Tampa and who played basketball for the University of South Florida, was engaged to be married when she passed away.
One of Neena's last posts on Twitter was a retweet from author Jon Gordon that talked about positivity and believing the best is yet to come.
"We are not positive because life is easy. We are positive because life can be hard," Gordon wrote in the original tweet. "Give yourself (and others) grace. Speak life and encourage others. Look for the good today. Remember your WHY. Believe the best is yet to come."
In tributes, News 9 and Neena's co-anchor also mentioned her smile and upbeat demeanor. "She was a kind person with a big heart and a contagious smile and we will miss her greatly," the station said.
Her co-anchor Brendan Mackey said Neena was "the brightest light in the room" with the "biggest smile and the funniest laugh."
"I have never met anyone in my entire life that is more loved than this girl," Mackey wrote in a tribute post on Facebook. "Everyday she made people smile, whether that was through a tv screen or just being an incredible friend. She was so happy and so full of life and a role model."
She was also quite successful as a news anchor. According to her website, Neena began working for the news channel in May 2017 as a multimedia journalist before being promoted to anchor in February 2019.