Madison body confirmed as missing teen

Published: Aug. 13, 2013 at 9:14 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 29, 2013 at 6:57 PM CDT
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The body was found Tuesday afternoon at Rice Road and Madison Avenue near Madison Avenue Upper...
The body was found Tuesday afternoon at Rice Road and Madison Avenue near Madison Avenue Upper Elementary School.

MADISON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - The investigation into the death of a Madison teen continues.

Abigail Grace Bonner's body was found Tuesday afternoon in a wooded area in Madison. She had last been seen at her home in Madison the morning of Aug. 3. Madison police reclassified the case from a missing person case to a runaway case Aug. 6.

The 17-year-old was home schooled and spent a lot of time at a nearby retirement home where her recent death has had a dramatic impact on residents. Abigail volunteered every Thursday at The Home Place on Old Canton Road.

Residents describe her as a dedicated Christian and very talented when it came to music. She would often perform alongside residents in the choir or play the piano. Many of the staff and residents say they grew close to her in the nearly four years that volunteered there.

"She sang beautifully and she had such a sweet personality, just a sweet, she really was and she just grew up with us and she belonged to us really," Ruth Morgan said.

Several of the residents told Mississippi News Now they are struggling to understand how the life of a young girl, with such a bright future, could end so tragically.

"There's just been a hush over this place. We were all so shocked it's hard to believe it just seems like a bad dream, really the whole thing," Morgan said.

Abigail's last visit to the home place was the Thursday before she disappeared. Staff members say she didn't show any signs of depression or distress.

Madison County Coroner Alex Breeland said he will need the results of a toxicology report to determine Abigail's cause of death. Breeland says that could take up to two weeks.

A Madison Police Department investigator found the body in the area of Rice Road and Madison Avenue at approximately 2:40 p.m. Tuesday. The location is near Madison Avenue Upper Elementary School.

There was a heavy law enforcement presence at the scene where the body was found Tuesday afternoon. Madison police, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the Mississippi State Crime Laboratory were on the scene.

"It appears she had been there for a while," said Madison Police Chief Gene Waldrop. "We can say there was no appearance or any indication of any traumatic injury to Abigail Bonner, based on the state medical examiner's review of the matter."

A press release sent from the Madison Police Department said the investigation is ongoing.

"Certainly our thoughts and prayers and condolences to the Bonner family.  It's not the result we were looking for," said Chief Waldrop. "We're moving forward with the investigation."

In a post Wednesday, on the Facebook page Looking for Abigail, the family of the missing teen stated they are "stunned, heartbroken and grieving."

The family released the following statement:

We were blessed and our lives enriched to have Abigail for 17 years. Abigail was joyful, pensive, generous, and a source of joy in our family. She loved the Lord and her family. She had joy in music, and loved to play and sing hymns - whether at home or in the congregation. She often found ways to do special things or to make special gifts for a sister or brother. Abigail was also drawn to the lonely and forgotten. One of her favorite activities was spending time at The Home Place in Madison, helping with the choir, and visiting with the residents there.

Abigail would want everyone that knew her to look to the Savior, Jesus Christ, who with abundant mercy and grace forgives and receives all who trust in Him for righteousness.

She will be greatly missed by us and her siblings, Hannah, Emily, Andrea, Andrew, and Rebekah, and her grandparents, James and Brenda Kennedy of Slaughter, Louisiana, and Joe and Barbara Bonner of Oklahoma City, and extended family.

Abigail will be buried in a small private family burial. The visitation is Friday, Aug 16 at 9:30am at First Presbyterian Church followed by the funeral service at 11am.

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