NEWTON COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - We may know the name of the woman found dead in Newton County, but there are still many unanswered questions as the sheriff's office begins the investigation into Nicole Bowen's death.
"Shocking and upsetting," said Colleen Clifton of her reaction to hearing the news. These are the same adjectives several other business owners in Kentland said of the incident.
Jenna Forney was a close friend of Bowens.
"I saw on Facebook that they had found a body in Newton County and the next day, it was said it was Nicole Bowen," she said. "It just kind of took my breath away."
Forney said she was someone Bowen leaned on during tough times in her life.
"She would reach out to me every once in a while for some advice or some kind words," she said.
According to Bowen's Facebook page, she was a graduate of William Henry Harrison High School. The question on many people's minds is how did this West Lafayette native end up more than 40 miles away? That's a question that the Newton County Sheriff's Office said it's not ready to answer yet because it's still an active investigation.
No missing person report was filed with the West Lafayette police of her disappearance. As News 18 previously reported, a property owner a few miles northwest of Kentland found her on his land on Saturday. Investigators say her death is suspicious, but that the public is not at risk. A spokesperson for the Newton County Sheriff's Office said the FBI helped identify her body.
As of 2017, there were only 1,697 people who live in Kentlend. Colleen Clifton has lived in the small town her whole life.
"We all know each other here and it is very upsetting," she said. "I feel really bad for the property owner for what he's had to go through and for the victim's family."
Forney wants her to be remembered as a caring person who loved the outdoors and had a bubbly personality.
"I want people to know that she was a good person and she loved her kids," she said. "The struggle is just really hard when you're trying to overcome your demons."
Sara Burns-Pulley is another close friend of Bowens, although she said she has not seen Bowen in more than year since moving out of state. She said she was too emotional to do an interview with News 18, but she wrote this letter about the legacy of her friend.
"Nicole Lynn Bowen was such a beautiful soul. I met Nicole back in 2015 from working together and clicked right away. We were inseparable, always laughing and goofing off everywhere we went. She could make anyone smile and laugh through some of the hardest times without trying. We could go to the gas station to get a cappuccino with another one of our good friends, Heather Dispennett, and start laughing so loud because Nicole tripped over the wet floor sign or going into the men's bathroom because we didn't see the sign. It's the smallest things because we got to cherish every moment together. Since hearing about the heartbreaking news, I have been a complete emotional wreck looking through all of our pictures together, missing her more than ever, wishing this wasn't true. The love Nicole had for her two boys was so real and beautiful. She was such a wonderful mother to those beautiful boys, always tried to be the best she could be. She would do anything she could to make her babies happy. They adored her and loved her more than anything. They always enjoyed whatever they are doing just as long as they're with their beautiful loving mother. Her laugh, oh my was it contagious and beautiful, I can still hear her laughing now as I'm thinking of all our memories. She has a heart of gold and it's so heartbreaking to know this isn't just a dream to wake up from. Most friendships end because of a huge fight, but that was never the case for all of us, the ones Nicole loved and adored, the friendship we all had with Nicole just ended out of no where and it breaks my heart. I don't think it'll ever get better. There is no closure. No goodbye. Nothing. It just ended out of no where. My prayers are and will always be with Nicole's family and her two boys. We all know Nicole will be watching over us. We love you our beautiful Angel!"
Photo below: Nicole Bowen (left) and Sara Burns-Pulley.
Courtesy of Sara Burns-Pulley.