CHETEK, Wis. (KMSP) - Students, teachers and even many law enforcement officers gathered at Chetek High School in Wisconsin to honor the life of a 17-year-old girl whose life was taken much too soon.
It was a somber event, just days after police identified the three people killed in an apparent murder-suicide Friday evening.
Natalie Turner was shot and killed at her home in Chetek, along with her 55-year-old mother, Brenda Turner, and a man named John Hengst. Preliminary autopsy results released Monday indicate all three died from a single gunshot wound. Brenda also suffered blunt force injuries to her face, neck and torso and had left side rib fracture.
According to the Barron County Sheriff's Office, some sort of altercation occurred in the upstairs bedroom and then continued downstairs where Brenda was found dead from a gunshot wound. Natalie made the 911 call asking for help and was found dead in her upstairs bedroom from a single gunshot wound. Hengst was found downstairs from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The manner of death for Brenda and Natalie is homicide and John matter of death is suicide.
The abrupt loss shocked many in the community who knew the high school senior as a positive, caring girl, active on the dance team and friends with everyone at school. She dreamed of becoming a nurse someday.
"I'm still in shock and processing," said Katelyn Williams, who was on the dance team with Natalie. "It's going to be a long road to being ok."
The 911 call came in just before 9:00 p.m. Friday night, and originated somewhere inside the home. Police were familiar with the address and had responded to calls at the house before.
The news comes on the heels of a rough few months for the small western Wisconsin town, after an early-summer tornado whipped through the area and caused more than $12 million in damage, killing one.
With the community still reeling, another student at the high school lost his life in a tragic plane crash just a few days later, an event that also left a young man from a neighboring town in the hospital with serious injuries.
The back-to-back losses left Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald speechless. Everyone knows everyone in a place like Chetek, and every death feels personal.
"Every one of our first responders knew one or both of these families, being local kids [that died in the plane crash]," Fitzgerald said at the time. "Good kids, great athletes, it’s just very very tough on them and it just took a toll. I’m not usually at a loss for words... but I am."