Remembering Jenika Feuerstein: Remains of missing girl found near Apache Lake

When authorities identified human remains found in the desert as a missing Mesa woman, it ended five years of torture for her family.

20-year-old Jenika Feuerstein went missing in January 2009. Her remains were discovered last week by three men target shooting near Apache Lake.

“It re-opened wounds we have worked so hard to heal,” said Maralyn Nava, Jenika’s mother.

The last time Maralyn saw her daughter was Christmas day. Jenika was supposed to come to a family event and when she didn’t show up, Maralyn knew something was wrong.

"She was gone. I knew that in the pit of my stomach. And it was just a horrible thought to think about," said Maralyn.

Days and weeks went by while Jenika’s family hoped for the best.

"We did searches. We did anything to find try and find her, “said Robert Nava, Jenika’s dad.

But as the days and weeks turned into years, hope faded and the thought that Jenika would never come back became a reality.

"She was taken from us," said Jenika’s sister, Heather Woelke,

A 20-year old girl taken way before her time, causing her to miss major milestones.

"It was right before my wedding and I was telling her I didn't have a maid of honor because that was her spot. I wanted her to be there. She should have been there. I’m very angry,” said Heather.

The painful emotions from her disappearance resurfaced when two Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies showed up at their door last week.

"I knew instantly why they were here," said Nava.

After five years of torture, they learned their daughter had been killed.

Her body placed in a sealed storage bin and hidden in some brush near Apache Lake.

"What kind of monster would do this to anyone's child?" asked Nava.

While the discovery of Jenika's remains brings a sense of closure, it does bring to light a long list of unanswered questions.

"I wonder what was happening to her. What she was thinking? Those are the hard things that I have to wonder," said Heather.

Investigators are still searching for tips that will help them find Jenika’s killer.

If you have any information, call the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office at 602-876-1801.

Jenika’s family has sent up a memorial fund to help pay for funeral costs.

Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo under the Jenika Feuerstein-Nava Memorial Fund or by donating here.

 

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