Neena Pacholke — a television news anchor for ABC television affiliate WAOW in Wausau, Wisconsin and ex-point guard for the University of South Florida women’s basketball team — was found dead on August 27.
She was only 27 years old.
“I don’t have the words,” Neena’s sister, Kaitlynn, wrote via Instagram on Monday.
“How does anyone ever find the words for the worst day of their life?”
Kaitlynn continued as follows:
“On Saturday, August 27th my world came crashing down in a way I never imagined possible. My baby sister is gone. My 27 year long best friend.”
No cause of death has yet been determined.
However, The Wausau Police Department and Marathon County Medical Examiner’s Office are investigating her death — and it is believed Pacholke took her own life.
“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,” Captain Ben Graham said yesterday.
“After receiving no answer at the door, officers entered the home and found Pacholke deceased.”
According to this same police department, foul play is not suspected at this time.
Kaitlynn added on social media that her sister’s passing doesn’t feel real and that she wants to “wake up from this living nightmare.”
“My sister was by far the happiest person I thought I knew,” Kaitlynn told the Tampa Bay Times.
“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.”
Neena played three years college basketball as a guard at the University of South Florida, where she was a member of two teams that appeared in the NCAA Tournament.
Her official website states that she joined WAOW as a multimedia reporter in 2017 and started working as an anchor in 2019.
“Being your co-anchor Neena was an honor. You were Batman and I was Robin,” Neena’s co-anchor, Brendan Mackey, wrote in tribute to his colleague Monday on Facebook.
“When I joined WAOW you made it clear we were going to work hard and compete with the best.”
For its part, WAOW, announced Neena’s death on Sunday and wrote that “the entire team here at News 9 are absolutely devastated by the loss as we know so many others are as well.”
Added Kaitlynn Pacholke told the Times on Monday:
“She just radiated love and positivity, and she just cared so much about pouring into other people, and always put other people first.
“I think she did that at the expense of not caring about herself.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to 988lifeline.org.