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      Balloon release in memory of Michelle Zapata

      Edie Quiroga kept just one of the dozens of balloons released Tuesday in honor of her friend 20-year-old Michelle Ann Marie Zapata of La Feria.

      They released balloons of all colors, including Hello Kitty balloons - Zapata's favorite cartoon character.

      "The balloons (were) different colors, Quiroga said. (We know) that eventually, they'll reach her."

      Quiroga said she'd become close friends with Zapata since April, when they both started classes at Southern Careers Institute in Harlingen, working towards a medical assistant certification.

      News of her death Saturday was a complete shock.

      "She was outgoing, she talked to everyone, it didn TMt matter who you were, Quiroga said. She'd make sure she'd tell you hi, she'd see you and joke around - she was just a very outgoing kid."

      The grieving friend said Zapata did not shy away from confiding in her about her father's losing battle to cancer.

      She adds Zapata seemed to cope well with her father's situation and was not distraught to the point she'd be a danger to herself.

      Police detained the two men that dropped off Zapata's body at the Harlingen Medical Center Emergency Room for questioning, but released them.

      No arrests have been made and police are still awaiting preliminary autopsy results to determine the cause of death.

      A Harlingen police officer patrolled the SCI campus on foot Tuesday.

      A rare site according to several students, especially since most of the time there isn't even a security guard on campus.

      Quiroga said she just wants to know what happened to her friend.

      "It hurts that we don TMt know the truth about it yet, Quiroga said. That's what we want to know.