Neena Pacholke, a beloved television news anchor at ABC affiliate WAOW, died of an apparent suicide on Aug. 27, according to her family. She was 27.
Pacholke, who grew up in Tampa, Florida, and played basketball for the University of South Florida, was found dead at her Wausau, Wisconsin, home early on Aug. 27. Police were called by concerned friends to conduct a welfare check after she'd reportedly threatened to kill herself.
Authorities found her dead inside the home upon arrival. It remains unclear how she took her own life.
"She could make anyone feel incredible," Kaitlynn said about her sister. "If you knew her your whole life or if you knew her for five minutes, she made you feel special."
"I have never met anyone in my entire life that is more loved than this girl," said Mackey. "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. Neena was so talented. She has so many friends and family members that love her so so so much."
"Whether we were skiing or coming up with fun bits for the show or out on a Saturday night she always made everything more fun," he added. "When I joined WAOW you made it clear we were going to work hard and compete with the best."
"Let’s remember Neena Pacholke for the beautiful person she was," he concluded. "The brightest light in the room. The biggest smile and the funniest laugh. I can’t believe it. I am still in shock."
"The smiles and happiness you saw from her on the air every day were genuine—she was exactly the same way off camera," Miller wrote in a tribute, noting that he is missing her greatly.
Pacholke joined WAOW as a multimedia journalist in May 2017.