By Mike Hellgren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Karen Ferrell’s family reported her missing, then started smelling a strong odor inside her home.  Now they’re working to find who killed her—and how.

Mike Hellgren spoke to one of the victim’s closest friends.

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Ferrell’s brother-in-law made a grisly discovery in the basement: his sister-in-law’s hand poking out of the plastic wrapped around her naked body.

“There’s a lot of questions.  We’ve been trying to find out what’s going on,” said Pawn Walker.

Walker told WJZ the nightmare started last Wednesday.

“The kids came home from school. The door was open, the front door was open, so quite naturally, the first one they came to was me,” Walker said.

She says her friend left her wallet and medicine.  She reported her missing and, as the days progressed, started smelling something in her home.

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“We smelled something foul, but we didn’t know it was that,” Walker said.

Police say they found no signs of trauma on the body.  The medical examiner is now working to determine what caused her death.

“At this time, there are no true suspects or motives, but we do have a few leads.  That notwithstanding, asking for people with information to contact the homicide unit,” said Detective Kevin Brown.

Court records show she filed a protective order against a man two years ago and her friend says she recently had a bad breakup.  Police say there are no suspects at this point.

“She’s a good person.  She loved her kids more than she did herself.  I’m going to tell you that much right there,” Walker said.

Her daughter wrote about her heartbreak on her Facebook page, how her mom was so excited about making Christmas dinner for her family.  Now Ferrell’s loved ones just want to know who killed her.

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The victim attended City College High School and Morgan State University.