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Family plans memorial, celebration of life to honor woman who disappeared

An autopsy aims to determine the cause of death for Tracey Rieker, 44, who was found in her SUV that had been submerged in a pond.
Credit: Venice Police Department

VENICE, Fla. — The family of Tracey Rieker plans to remember her with events during the next several days and weeks.

Rieker was said to have left home on Sept. 30 and hadn't been seen nor heard from since. The Venice Police Department issued a call to the public on Oct. 3 in an effort to find the 44-year-old woman.

Last weekend, divers with the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office and North Port Police Department found a green Nissan Xterra -- one Rieker was said to have been driving -- in a large pond in the Toscana Isles subdivision in North Venice. Police on Monday confirmed Rieker was found inside.

"We continue to grieve the unimaginable loss of Tracey as a family," the family said in a statement. "We have decided to hold a private memorial for her, with our extended family and close friends, here in Florida this weekend, at the beach.

"In the coming weeks, we will continue to celebrate her life with the friends that loved her in Maryland and Colorado."

Police previously said Rieker was known to visit area beaches to talk with people about God.

"In the coming weeks, we will continue to celebrate her life with the friends that loved her in Maryland and Colorado," the family's statement read. "It is important to us to also celebrate her life with the community who helped us bring her home."

Details of a public event are set to be released later. Until then, the family says they are collecting donations on Venmo @traceymemorialfund to plant a tree in her name at the Selby Botanical Gardens, located in Sarasota. They say it was one of Rieker's favorite places.

Venice police have not yet determined a cause of death and say it could take six to eight weeks to learn the results of a toxicity screening.

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