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Family, friends mourn Nicole VanderHeyden

Nicole Vanderheyden (Photo courtesy Brown Co. Sheriff's Office)

BROWN COUNTY (WLUK) -- As police continue their investigation into Nicole VanderHeyden's death, family and friends are stunned.

"Certainly nobody is prepared for something like this to happen," said Tiffany Hoffman, a friend of Vanderheyden.

Her body was found Saturday, near a field in Bellevue.

"Everybody that she touched was mortified, shocked and heartbroken getting the news," Hoffman said, "nobody expects to get news like that, certainly when it reaches such a close to heart connection."

Hoffman and VanderHeyden had known each other for five years, and their children went to Webster Elementary School together.

"She had a light and an energy about her that was infectious and that's what I will always remember," said Hoffman, "just her verve for life and her love and passion for anything she dived into."

She said Vanderheyden loved her job.

"She loved teaching, she was a substitute teacher and she truly had a passion for science. We would go on our runs and she would rattle off the periodic table and it was her passion, she loved teaching kids."

Authorities have focused their search efforts around the Ledgeview home VanderHeyden shared with her boyfriend, Douglass Detrie.

On Monday, the area around the home was blocked off.

At times, you could see police on their hands and knees, searching through the yard.

Captain David Konrath with the Brown County Sheriff's Office gave an update on the investigation Monday night.

"We are obviously doing neighborhood canvasing. We want to see if anybody saw anything during this time period," Konrath said, "so we have to try and get as much information as early as possible after you discover that a homicide had occurred."

As for VanderHeyden's friends, they have created online groups to help raise funds for funeral costs.

There will also be fundraisers at Webster Elementary.

"There's good people, there's good people everywhere," said Hoffman. "And I think in light of this monstrous, tragic ordeal there's a lot of good that's coming out of it too, because people are there for the family and will be there and the family knows they have all the support."

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The Green Bay Area Public School District says VanderHeyden had worked in the district for four years. The district released this statement:

On behalf of the Board of Education and District Administration, we wish to extend our deepest condolences to Nicole's family, friends and co-workers. Nicole was a substitute teacher in our district, serving children in many elementary and middle schools since 2012. We are grateful to Nicole for her commitment to education. As a valued colleague and friend, she truly will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Nicole's family, friends and colleagues during this most difficult time.

Meanwhile, friends and relatives have set up two funds in VanderHeyden's memory. They say funds will go toward funeral expenses and to support VanderHeyden's children.

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