Grief counselors talked with students Thursday at University High School, a day after news broke that a body found in Greene County, Pa. was that of Skylar Neese.
Neese, a 16-year-old who had been missing since July, was a student at UHS. U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld’s office issued a statement Wednesday saying Neese’s body was found Jan. 16 in Wayne Township, Pa.
Authorities remain tip-lipped about the investigation. It’s unclear if foul play was involved in Neese’s death; officials have also not commented on the condition of the body or cause of death.
University High School Principal Shari Burgess said students, faculty and staff were hoping for a better outcome than the news released Wednesday.
“As a school family, we’ve held out hope,” Burgess said. “When we got the official word, we called the staff and faculty together to prepare to talk to kids.”
Neese had been missing since July 2012 when a surveillance video near her Star City home saw Neese getting into a car with unidentified individuals.
The case has long been under investigation by the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office with state police and Star City police also involved in the case. Few details had officially been released before Wednesday.
UHS held a moment of silence Thursday in honor of Neese. Burgess says school administrators have asked parents to talk with their children about the case.
“Parents have done a great job in following this news story, because it is so close to our hearts. Obviously, we’re all very saddened by this news,” Burgess said. “Our thoughts are with her family and her friends. We’ve lost a member of the UHS family. We never thought we’d have to deal with something like this.”
The body of Skylar Neese, the missing 16-year-old Star City resident, was found in January in Greene County, Pa., according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld issued a statement Wednesday saying Neese’s body had been found in a remote area in Wayne Township, just across the Pennsylvania state border. She had been missing since July 2012 when surveillance video near her Star City home showed Neese getting into a car with unidentified individuals.
The case has been under investigation by the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office, with state police and Star City police joining in the case. Few details had officially been released before Wednesday.
Dave Neese, Skylar’s father, spoke with MetroNews about his daughter Wednesday.
“Our whole world is gone. We lived for that girl. We did everything in the world for that girl, and now she’s gone,” Neese said. “No parent should ever have to bury their children.”
A cause of death has not been determined, and authorities said it’s unclear if foul play was involved.
The body was found Jan. 16. Officials identified the body after the FBI conducted tests.
Dave Neese has been in contact with federal officials as the investigation continues. He could not talk about the specifics of the case. However, he said many rumors are untrue and hurtful to the family.
“The rumors do us more harm than good. This isn’t speculation, this is my daughter we’re talking about. There is no reason to ever, ever guess on something like this,” Neese said. “If you don’t know the facts, then shut up. It’s that easy. It’s not good to spread this stuff around.”
Early in the investigation, there were rumors that Skylar had been spotted walking along Route 119 or in North Carolina. Both turned out to be misinformation.
An emotional Dave Neese said he was unsure how he would cope with the news of losing his daughter.
“One day at a time is the only thing I know. Just take the day as it comes,” Neese said. “This gives us no closure at all. We don’t have our daughter. That is the only closure we were looking for.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says an investigation is ongoing. It’s unclear when or if more information will be released.
Dave Neese is leading an effort asking lawmakers to approve a bill known as “Skylar’s Law.” The bill would expand Amber Alert laws and allow police to initiate investigations, even in cases of runaways. Skylar Neese was deemed a runaway at the time of her disappearance, meaning her case did not qualify under Amber Alert rules.