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TV news anchor, 27, found dead at home in Wisconsin

Neena Pacholke anchored the midday and co-anchored the morning show at WAOW of Wausau, Wisconsin, a job she described as a privilege.
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A Wisconsin television station is mourning the loss of one of its news anchors Tuesday after she was found dead over the weekend.

Neena Pacholke, a morning co-anchor and midday anchor at WAOW of Wausau, was 27.

Her body was discovered Saturday morning at a home in Wausau after officers were sent to conduct a welfare check, Wausau Police Capt. Ben Graham said.

The welfare check was prompted by possible suicidal statements by Pacholke, Graham said. "Foul play is not suspected," he said.

The cause and manner of death were not released. The Marathon County medical examiner did not immediately respond to a request for information.

Neena Pacholke.
Neena Pacholke.WAOW

"Neena loved this community and the people who lived here," WAOW said. "She was a kind person with a big heart and a contagious smile and we will miss her greatly."

Hundreds of comments were posted on the station's Facebook page, where people were invited to share condolences and memories of Pacholke.

Her older sister, Kaitlynn Pacholke, an assistant basketball coach at the University of Southern Mississippi, did not respond to requests for comment. She said on Twitter that she had lost her "27 year long best friend."

"My heart is shattered into a million pieces and I know it will never be whole again," she wrote. "One day the words will come to me. But for now, I know she's not in pain anymore and I am thankful for that."

In her website bio, Neena Pacholke, who grew up in Tampa, Florida, wrote about being promoted from reporter to anchor.

"Being in this current position has brought me completely out of my comfort zone and I have loved every second of it, including that 2 a.m. alarm clock!" she wrote. "Getting to start thousands of people's days each weekday morning in central Wisconsin is a privilege and something I don't take lightly."

Pacholke attended the University of South Florida, where she was a guard on the basketball team, which went to the NCAA Division I tournament twice during her time there.

The university's athletics department produced a video about her relationship with her high school boyfriend, who died of brain cancer in 2013.

“What Neena went through,” her coach, Jose Fernandez, said in the video. “She’s so strong.”

On her website, Pacholke said her time at the University of South Florida changed her life.

"During my time as an athlete I learned more life lessons than I ever realized," she wrote. "I learned what it takes to be team player, what it means to sacrifice, to lead, and to encourage."

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.