By Rick Ritter

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Police found and identified the body of a 15-year-old girl in Harford County after she was reported missing.

Investigators said Maleigha Solonka was found strangled in a dumpster days before her sixteenth birthday.

Now, family and friends are coming to grips with the brutal murder of Solonka, while her killer is still on the loose.

“I didn’t want to believe it,” said grandmother Donna Elliott who lived with Solonka for more than five years.

The victim was last seen on August 9 in Edgewood and on Wednesday, police said it was tips that led them to a wooded area in Havre de Grace along Webb Lane, where the teen’s body was found.

“Its been determined that it’s a homicide due to asphyxiation,” said Cpl. Dan Petz of Havre de Grace police.

Neighbors in the area feared the worst.

“I just had a feeling as soon as I saw those cops going around there, and sure enough,” Sherrie Spencer said.

The 15-year-old was an all-star-athlete and adored by many.

“She was very ambitious, beautiful, loved by everyone she met,” Elliot said.

Thursday, hundreds came out to Edgewood for a vigil to remember Solonka, who was taken far too soon.

“She was enthusiastic, she was a go better,” Elliot said.

Police are staying very tight-lipped about the investigation and have not released any information on a possible suspect.

Detectives said they continue to receive numerous tips from the community.

Anyone with information is urged to call police immediately.

GoFundMe page has been started for Maleigha to help pay for funeral costs.

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