PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – Tracy Ortega said Thursday was one of the most difficult days for her, learning that her good friend of 10 years, Mona Ellison, 50, was gone.
“It’s still kind of hard to believe that she’s going to be gone,” Ortega said. “She’s going to be very loved and missed.”
On Wednesday, Peoria Police responded to the 3500 block of NE Brevis for a report of a missing woman, Ellison. They said they found her body the next day behind a multi-unit residential structure in a densely wooded area near Woodrow Drive and Harding Blvd in East Peoria.
Ortega said she was with Ellison’s family when the tragic news came out.
“It’s heartbreaking that it gets out there before a lot of family members are reached,” Ortega said.
She said although she’ll miss Mona immensely, she wants to highlight the essence of who she was. She said she first met her about a decade ago at her job and the connection between the two was instant.
“She walked in and we just started talking and you just could fall in love with her,” Ortega said. “She was just always there for me if I needed anything. There’s just a lot of memories of her.”
But she said anyone who’s ever met Mona could form the same timeless memories. She said Mona always had a contagious smile on her face and could make anyone laugh even on their darkest days.
“If anybody that knew Mona, knew she had a heart of gold,” Ortega said. “She would do anything for anybody, help anybody at any time in need. If you’re from the North end area, she was well-known. [She was] a very, very close friend of mine, and she’s going to be truly missed by a lot, a lot of people.”
Police said foul play is suspected and Ellison’s case is now being investigated as a homicide. The Tazewell County Coroner will be conducting the autopsy Friday.
Ortega said she can’t imagine how anyone could do harm to someone whom she said was so adored.
“She loved everybody, so it’s hard that somebody could want to hurt her in any type of way,” Ortega said. “I just hope it all comes to justice.”
Ortega said she wants the community to keep Ellison’s family in mind and send them condolences as they try to process the news.