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Park Rapids murder victim described as 'funny, warm, vivacious.'

Park Rapids is grieving the loss of a funny, warm, vivacious individual.

Sonya Marie Hennagir, 40, died early Tuesday morning at her home on Discovery Circle.

The mother of a 15-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter was employed at Heartland Homes, Inc., warmth and a gregarious nature her chief credentials.

"She was one of the rare ones that you find," Oscar Odland said. "Everyone liked her. She had the right kind of heart for the job."

The two, he said, arrived about the same time, Odland as a person receiving support through Heartland Homes, Hennagir as a personal care attendant.

"She was upbeat and a cool person to be around," he said. "And she was a big time football fan of the Bears... She was one of those people who seemed to have the knack."

"All the clients loved her," said Kelly Dudley, Heartland Homes program coordinator. "She built relationships with people, combining her interests with theirs. She made life fun. That's why she was so successful."

Friend, Katrice Lund, recommended Hennagir for the position, her compassion the key. "She'd do anything for anyone. Our clients adored her," Lund said. "She always had a smile on her face." "And she put a smile on the clients' faces," co-worker Tim Norton said. "Funny as heck. And she was an awesome cook, an amazing cook."

"Having a bad day" was never on her agenda, he said. "She threw it aside and cheered people up.

"And she was a great mom, too."

Betty Norlin, an employee at Rapids Spirits, recalled spotting a lizard on Hennagir's back as she departed the liquor store one evening. Norlin ran after her, the employees thinking a child's pet may have escaped.

But the rogue reptile had been intentionally placed. Hennagir, Norlin said, was delighted with the episode.

Mike Stevens, owner of the Royal Bar, where she'd been employed for a time, said Hennagir was born in Chicago, vacationing in northern Minnesota as a child.

"She was very sociable," he said. "She had a big heart and was very friendly."

Her brother, Mike Ellis, arriving from Chicago this week, said Sonya put friends first. "If Sonya was a friend, you had a great friend.

"Sonya loved it up here," Ellis said. "This was her life.

"Obviously, there was some negligence," he said of Henkels & McCoy, the employer of the man charged with second degree murder in Hennagir's death. "When you work in a community and send out a bunch of guys, you can't let someone dangerous slip through the cracks.

"But I have no ill will toward the workers in general," Ellis said. Upon arriving at the C'mon Inn, pipeline workers approached him, expressing condolences.

"It's a shame for Heartland Homes," Ellis said of the loss. "I'm sorry the town will be missing the friendship of my sister."

Hennagir's children, Benjamin and Anna, will be living with their maternal grandparents, Walter and Barbara Ellis, he said.