JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) - The best friend and co-worker of murdered 17-year-old Tara Willenborg is speaking out about a girl she simply calls "amazing."
"This is just tragic," said Ashley Bouchey. "It's not something that should have happened to a person like her or to anybody."
Willenborg and Bouchey spent their entire lives together.
"We all grew up in elementary school," Bouchey said. "She was down to earth and loving. She loved her friends and she loved her family.
Tara had just started working at a Jeffersonville Subway restaurant last month. She grew up as a vegetarian and even refused her father's $100 bet to try a hamburger. In fact, she had to learn the different meats on the Subway menu.
"She didn't know the difference between ham and turkey, and she was afraid she was going to have a nervous breakdown," Bouchey laughed.
Cupcakes brought her joy.
"She had cupcake parties. All her friends would come over and they all cooked hundreds of cupcakes just for anything," Bouchey recalled. "She'd do it for a good cause or just because she's bored."
To work off those calories, Willenborg would run. "A lot! You'd catch her running up a hill as fast as possible, and it's like, ‘How's her little butt doing that?' I would dread that," Bouchey said.
Bouchey never dreamed she'd have to say goodbye to her best friend this soon. She's remembering the good times to help get her through.
"There are so many. So many memories with her," Bouchey said.
Memories are all that remain after police say 49-year-old Richard Hooten took Willenborg's life by raping and strangling her.
"I'm sorry," he said before he appeared in court on Monday.
Hooten faces murder, rape, battery, and strangulation charges for Willenborg's death. Police say Hooten lived in the unit below her.
Now, as Willenborg's family prepares to say their final goodbyes, they're learning the long road to justice in her murder.
"It's not very often that, as a prosecutor, we sit down just a day or two after a murder and sit down with the victim's parents, the legal process that's going to go on for the next year, two years, or ten years," Prosecutor Stephen Stewart said.
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