Loved ones mourn former Hawaii woman brutally murdered in Georgia

Loved ones mourn former Hawaii woman strangled to death on the mainland

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Friends are mourning the brutal murder of a former Hawaii woman whose body was found in a dumpster in Georgia last week.

Andrya DeGhelder, 39, lived in Honolulu and worked at the East West Medical Research Institute as a research coordinator from 2010 to 2011.

Her friends and former coworkers say they still can't believe the gruesome details surrounding her murder.

"One of the colleagues here learned about the incident so instantaneously, I Googled … and sure enough, her picture shows up. I read the details and I just couldn't believe it," said Youngmee Park, operations manager at the institute.

DeGhelder was reported missing in Georgia two weeks ago. Last week, her body was found in a dumpster behind a Walmart about four miles from her home. Media reports say investigators believe she was forcibly taken from her home and strangled to death.

"You cannot unsee what you see," Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle said about the brutal murder.

Columbia County Maj. Sharif Chochol added: "Our work is not done. it's obvious the suspect tried to clean up and cover up the crime scene, but it didn't work."

DeGhelder's Hawaii friends say she overcame big challenges in life.

When DeGhelder was pregnant in Hawaii in 2010, she was diagnosed with cancer.

"Everyone was worried about how she's gonna handle the pregnancy and also treatment for the cancer," said Park. "And actually, she fought … she was able to deliver a baby. She's a fighter. She did everything to the best of her ability … and then this happened."

Park said DeGhelder moved back to the mainland to continue treatment and be closer to family. Media reports say DeGhelder got divorced less than a year ago and was on several dating sites before she vanished.

So far, no suspects have been named.

DeGhelder leaves behind her 7-year-old son.

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