Investigation ongoing into teen’s death

Items still remain from a vigil held in Link's honor earlier this year.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Teddy bears, notes and balloons are still outside of an abandoned home on Eckart Street where 19-year-old Zhanelle Link’s body was found in May.

“We know that she didn’t put herself in there, but finding her there does not necessarily gives us clues to how she died,” Allen County Deputy Coroner Patt Kite said.

That’s a question that may never be answered. The coroner’s office was unable to determine the cause of death. Kite said there is no visible cause of death, no drugs or poison in her system and not enough evidence to blame it on medical reasons. Link was a diabetic and Kite said that could have been a factor but there’s just not enough evidence.

“There certainly is a reason to think that had something to do with her death, but we cannot positively say that,” Kite said. “She was a pretty brittle diabetic from what I understand, so yes that would be a factor.”

Kite said she can’t say for sure when Link died, but she was dead for a significant amount of time before her body was discovered.

Fort Wayne Police spokesman Officer Michael Joyner said the report doesn’t affect their work.

“It’s just another bit of information that we add to the investigation that they couldn’t determine a cause of death, but the investigation since discovery has been the same throughout,” Joyner said.

He said the investigation hasn’t stopped since her body was found.

“What we do know is that she ended up in a trash receptacle. She didn’t place herself there,” Joyner said. “That is a crime and so it’s a criminal investigation with respect to disposing of a body improperly.”

Kite said it only happens about once every couple of years that a cause of death can’t be determined, leaving unanswered questions about what really happened.

“It’s very disappointing is what it is because that’s what we do is hopefully give families answers and some closure,” Kite said.

Police said the investigation is active and ongoing.

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