It’s been almost two weeks since the body of Katelynn Berry was found close to her home in Sidney. Authorities have been tight-lipped about the case. Her family still isn’t sure how she died.
MTN spoke with Berry’s aunt, Carla Couture, for the first time Tuesday on what could have happened to Berry.
“She had the biggest smile and the biggest laugh. I mean, you could hear her a mile away when she was laughing,” Couture said.
Berry’s loved ones have been stuck in limbo while they wait for the coroner’s report from Richland County, one that could up take up to six weeks to be finished.
“And now we’re trying to find, I guess what you call a new normal,” Couture said.
Couture worries that her niece could have been murdered. However, she acknowledges that Berry struggled with mental health issues and drug addiction since she was a teenager.
“It manifested into schizophrenia, bi-polar. So we’ve been dealing with it for many years,” Couture said.
Berry coped with her mental health issues by turning to drugs. She spent time in and out of rehab, sometimes out of state.
“She’d slip right back into it and that mental health would just take over and the drugs would come into play. And we’d lose her again,” said Couture.
Berry’s family isn’t sure if her mental health issues or drug addiction had any part in her death.
“My heart of hearts wants to say this is foul play. But with her mental health, I don’t know what kind of state she was in that night,” Couture said.
Richland County Sheriff John K. Dynneson said Tuesday that investigators are waiting to determine a cause of death before deciding whether they believe there was foul play.
Regardless of how she died, Berry’s family hopes her death will shine a light on mental health issues and addiction. Both of Berry’s parents are setting up scholarships in her name.
Couture is raising money in her hometown of Williston, North Dakota.
“We’ll be having a dinner where we’re going to talk about mental health, addiction. Bringing those together to lessen the (stigma) of people thinking it’s taboo to talk about,” Couture said.
Berry will be remembered for her bright smile, one that touched so many lives.
“Cause you know, we don’t look at this as the end of Katelynn’s story. This is just the beginning,” Couture said.