Family mourns the loss of murdered teen

By Julia Bruck - bioemail

PINCKNEYVILLE (KFVS) - It's a terrible loss for a Heartland family, as investigators try and piece together the final hours of 15-year-old Sidnee Stephens's life.

A fisherman found her body in Beaucoup Creek Sunday evening. Investigators say someone killed Stephens, but we don't know who or why.

On Wednesday family members held pictures of Stephens, whom they describe as outgoing and cheerful.

"I played with Sidnee on the swing," Wyatt Tritschler said.

Four year old Wyatt and two year old Emilie are Stephens's cousins. On this day, they are short a playmate on the swing set. Wyatt and Emilie's mom, Niki Tritschler says, when Stephens lived with them; she loved to play with the kids.

"She played Barbies and cars with my kids," Niki Tritschler, Stephens aunt said.

The 15 year old lived with Tritschler and her family for about a month this spring. Tritschler says the last time she saw Stephens alive was May 15, her 15th birthday.

"She ran away in June," Tritschler said.

Tritschler says Stephens came home but ran away a second time. Nearly a week later, Perry County deputies found her body here in Beaucoup Creek. Since then Tritschler says it's been an emotional roller coaster.

"When I got a text message that said it was a 15-year-old female and I just hung up the phone and dropped and started crying," Tritschler said.

Tritschler says later official word came that the person found in this creek was Stephens. To remember her niece, Tritschler says her sister personalized a photo of Stephens with the words, "you will be loved and missed."

Tritschler says she wants people to "remember her to the highest and its okay to cry."

Stephens's funeral is set for Saturday evening in Pinckneyville. She went to school at Pinckneyville High School.

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