(Ray Legendre/The Columbian)
BATTLE GROUND -- In front of the ditch where authorities found a woman’s body the previous day, a small group of men, women and children stood Saturday night looking forward past the embankment, some with tear-stained eyes and others with empty looks on their faces.
Behind them, around three dozen people gathered quietly off Southwest 10th Avenue, a short distance from where Tatyana Tupikova’s body was found. Police identified the 22-year-old Battle Ground resident Saturday afternoon as the woman in the ditch. Authorities also announced they believed she had been the victim of a hit-and-run.
A passer-by reported seeing a woman’s body around 3 p.m. Friday in a ditch along the east side of Southwest 10th Avenue -- also known as state Highway 503 -- between Eaton Boulevard and Main Street in Battle Ground. An autopsy performed Saturday morning at the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of Tupikova’s death as blunt-force trauma.
Detectives are seeking witnesses who might have seen any suspicious activity at around 9 p.m. Wednesday just north of the Battle Ground Cinemas.
On Saturday evening, a small display of flowers, stuffed animals and a handwritten note to Tupikova appeared in front of the ditch where her body had been discovered. Participants in the vigil were provided small cups with plastic, blinking lights. The group was silent. At one point, three young boys sat at the bottom of the embankment near the ditch, a few feet away from tiny yellow flags placed there the day before by police.
Tupikova was described by those who knew her as someone whose joyous personality brought happiness to others. That was especially true at Mallard Landing, an assisted-living facility where she had worked for about three years, her co-workers said.
Tupikova worked to help pay bills at home, where she lived with her mother and father, said Roseann Pruitt, her friend, co-worker and organizer of Saturday’s vigil.
“She would give anybody her last dime or the shirt off her back,” Pruitt said about her friend. Tupikova’s family asked Pruitt to address media, she said, noting they were still deep in grief.
Pruitt recalled her friend’s sweetness, her ability to make almost anything out of construction or wrapping paper, and her singing. When Tupikova started working at the facility, she constantly sang Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister,” Pruitt shared.
Tupikova was supposed to meet Pruitt and a group of friends Wednesday afternoon for frozen yogurt at Yo Factory near Wilco on East Main Street. Tupikova texted friends to say she felt tired and was not going to make it, Pruitt said. Pruitt described the facility’s employees as a tight-knit group who often interacted away from work.
Tupikova was last seen about 3 p.m. Wednesday, according to friends. She was reported missing Thursday.
A former co-worker who asked to only be identified as Oksana said Tupikova always “made my day.”
“She thought of everybody before herself,” Oksana, 23, said. “She was a great caregiver and a hard worker.”
Oksana struggled for words when asked what she would tell the person responsible for her friend’s death.
“It’s not fair,” she said, fighting back tears.
Pruitt urged the person responsible “to come forward now instead of prolonging the family’s agony.”
“She was just the most amazing, caring person and it’s heartbreaking to know someone hit her and took off,” Pruitt said. “Maybe if they’d stopped and helped her she’d still be here.”
Asking for help
The Battle Ground Police Department asks anyone with information about a suspect vehicle to call Detective Joshua Phelps at 360-342-5254 or email him at Joshua.Phelps@cityofbg.org. There is also a tip line at http://cityofbg.org/tips where an anonymous tip can be sent.