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Cub Reporter Found Dead In Dry Creek

June 27, 1988

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) _ A 24-year-old woman with a budding journalism career has been found dead after less than two weeks at her first job.

Audrey Cardenas graduated May 13 and landed a summer internship at the Belleville News-Democrat. But 11 days after her June 8 arrival, she was gone without a trace.

Police sought clues in her disappearance. The newspaper that hired her offered a reward. Her mother flew to southern Illinois to help in the search.

On Sunday, a Belleville East Township High School employee found her body in a dry creek bed on school property.

Police Detective Mike Boyne said Monday authorities have no leads in the case, which was being treated as a homicide.

Miss Cardenas’s job as an editorial intern was her first since her graduation from Texas A&M University.

She was reported missing June 20 when she failed to show up for work. Police searched her apartment, but found all her belongings, minus a key ring, undisturbed. Her truck was still parked outside her apartment.

Friends and relatives said Miss Cardenas was a perfectionist who didn’t recognize the full extent of her talent.

″She struck me as a person who was good at what she did but worried that she wasn’t good enough,″ said Joe Ostermeier, coordinator of the Capital Cities minority training program for the News-Democrat. ″It’s just sad to think about a life snuffed out just at the start.″

Her immediate goal was to be a good reporter and she had the talent, attitude and dedication to become one, said Doug Starr, head of the Texas A&M journalism department.

Miss Cardenas was a quiet but popular student who worked hard to maintain her B grades and ran on the university’s cross-country team, said her aunt, Patsy Perry of College Station, Texas.

″Everything she tried to do or wanted to do, she excelled at it,″ Ms. Perry said. ″She put herself down too much. She just needed more self- confidence.

″She was so shy that most of the time we found out she had run a (cross- country) race from the paper.″

A sports enthusiast, Miss Cardenas set her time around jogging and Boston Celtics basketball games, Ms. Perry said. ″If the Celtics were playing, you could always catch her at home, but you wouldn’t dare call her.″

Police Chief Robert Hurst said the cause of death was not immediately determined because of the body’s decomposition. An autopsy was planned, he added.

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