In a Facebook tribute, Marcie Lynn Ward is called an angel and best friend, one who could sing with a beautiful voice.
"We would find the biggest hills and go sledding on tires, trash can lids and inner tubes or whatever else we could find while drinking hot chocolate, sniffling our noses because it was far too cold to be outside," the tribute reads. "During Halloween we would try and find the scariest movies and see who was the ‘bravest’ and didn’t cover their eyes at the scary parts even though we were both terrified."
The image of a fun-loving teen doesn’t square with the image of a body wrapped in a carpet and left in an alley near the 3300 block of Wayne Trace, but that’s where the 17-year-old was found about 10 a.m. Saturday.
The Allen County coroner’s office has not determined the cause and manner of her death.
Ward’s father called Fort Wayne police Nov. 9 to report her as a runaway, police spokesman Michael Joyner said.
An officer gathered the necessary information, Joyner said. If there were an indication she was in danger, "then obviously we would take it to another level," he added.
If there were any indications she had gone to another city or state, those agencies would be been alerted, Joyner said.
"We do a very thorough initial screening of the runaway," including mental capacity and health issues such as diabetes, Joyner said.
Mike Burelison, a cousin of Ward’s, told The Journal Gazette that Ward was a "good girl" but said she was "set on the wrong path. She’s had a little bit of trouble in her past."
Other comments on her Facebook page also alluded to some kind of distress.
"I’m going to remember Marcie like this, happy, smiling, being my best friend for two years. She was so wonderful. Sure she had a past, but who doesn’t?" Jayde Sipe, a Fort Wayne high school student, wrote in a post.
"I still have her letters in this giant binder and her name largely printed off because she wanted to be the center of my attention. I once wrote her this: ‘Marcie, something that I have learned from you is it doesn’t matter what you have done in your past, you can completely change your life around if you really set it to something.’ It was a privilege to know you and I am so happy that I had a part in your life."
Sipe said she met Ward when the two of them stayed in a treatment facility in Muncie.
"But through the year I was with her, I watched her grow. Overcome her issues," Sipe wrote. "(I) watched her open up and slowly be happy again. She started gaining confidence. She was becoming happy with herself which was a problem with her. She started wearing makeup and exercising and was doing so wonderful."
On Oct. 21, Ward’s last post on social media was this: "I’m currently making changes in my life. If you don’t hear from me, you’re one of them."
Police are continuing their investigation.
"She tried hard," Burelison said.