Family of murdered Bismark woman still seeks answers five years -

Family of murdered Bismark woman still seeks answers five years later

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BISMARK (KMOV) – Nearly five years after a 20-year-old college student was murdered in St. Francois County, the family continues to seek answers.

In November 2010, Ericka Wade went missing and her body was discovered in a vacant building. For the first time since her death, her parents are speaking out.

“At times it feel like 100 years ago but at times it feels like yesterday,” the emotions are still raw for Eric Wade as he thinks of his daughter's death.

The night Ericka went missing she received a cryptic text from someone she thought was a friend asking for a ride.

“She thought she was helping someone in need,” her mother Debbie said.

What happened between when Wade answered the text to when her body was found just five miles from her St. Francois home remains a mystery.

“I think the biggest thing we've struggled with is why?,” said Debbie Wade.

Through DNA and telephone records, police linked her death to Nathan Fortner, 25. Police say Fortner shot himself after killing three other people the same day Wade went missing. However, because of his suicide, her parents and investigators never learned the reason.

“Sometimes you just never get the answer,” said Lt. Gregory Armstrong who assisted in the 2010 investigation.

While they worry it will reopen the old wounds, the Wade's still hold on to hope.

“Someone out there knows something,” Debbie said.

But the feelings of bitterness still remain.

“I go to bed mad, I wake up made, nothing's going to change that but there are ways to deal,” said Eric Wade.

What helps is that the Wades have poured their hearts into helping others. Doing exactly what their daughter did her whole life, including the moments leading up to her death. They began the Ericka Wade Foundation shortly after their daughter's death.

“Making something good out of something so horrendous, the nightmare you never wake up from,” said Debbie.

The family has raised more than $20,000 over the years through fundraisers and their annual 5K in St. Francois County. Now, that money will go towards the new Shriner's Children's Hospital. It's a place that holds a spot in their heart. When Ericka was a child she underwent surgery at Shriners. Now a room will be dedicated in her honor.

It's a way the Wade's say they can carry on their daughter's legacy.

“It's hard every day,” Eric Wade said. “Ericka had a big heart, she always wanted to help everybody.”

The room will be dedicated at a ceremony on Sunday. For more information on the Ericka Wade Foundation, go to its Facebook page.

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