KANSAS CITY, Mo – The Buchanan County Sheriff's Department has identified a body found in a bag in Faucett, Missouri, as that of 21-year-old Ariel Starcher.
Her family says her death is a tragic end to a troubled life.
"She was a very loving person. If you met her on the street, she was very nice,” her grandfather Jim Starcher said.
At a very young age, Ariel and her two siblings were adopted by their grandparents who now live in Oklahoma.
"We were like inseparable. I mean, she was my world,” said Jim, who worked for the KCMO School District as a child advocate.
He would take Ariel to lectures and keep her quiet with snacks.
"That worked out pretty good except one time she ate faster than I could talk, and she comes on stage with her plate saying, 'Can I have some more?'" he remembered.
It's those memories of her early childhood that make the Starchers smile. They said Ariel loved to cook and go camping with her grandfather.
She leaves behind two daughters, a 6-year-old and a 14-month-old.
"She was a good mother. She loved her children,” her grandmother Deborah Starcher said. "She tried her best, but she got lost long before that."
The Starchers said Ariel was a happy child until she was sexually assaulted around 10 or 12 years old.
A cloud moved over their loving girl and plagued her with demons she couldn't shake. Ariel fell into drugs and the wrong crowd.
"She talked to me when she would be crying. When she was lost, she would call me," Deborah said.
She would hear from her granddaughter at least every other day and became worried after the calls stopped in late January.
"And that’s when I knew something was wrong because we talked so often,” Deborah said. "I know something is wrong. Call it a mother's intuition, call it what you want, but I know something is wrong."
Getting the call this week that Ariel was dead is something the Starchers feared -- and somewhat expected.
The couple is now left with grief and questions about who could have killed their granddaughter, put her body in a bag and dumped her along a lonely country road.
"I just don't want her death to be in vain. I want people to remember what kind of child she was, her person,” Jim said. "I want justice."
This will be a difficult case to solve for investigators.
The Buchanan County Sheriff's Department is asking anyone with information about Ariel Starcher's known friends or associates to call them at 816-236-8845. Calls are also being accepted on the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.