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America’s Next Top Model Season 21 contestant Mirjana Puhar was found dead in a home in Charlotte, North Carolina on Tuesday evening. Puhar was caught up with some people related to the drug trade, and was tragically murdered along with two other victims, Jusmar Isiah Gonzaga-Garcia and Jonathan Cosme. Puhar was only 19.
The crime occurred in the 700 block of Norris Avenue in Charlotte, an area just outside of Charlotte proper. Reportedly on Tuesday evening, gunshot fire was heard, and police responded to the home after receiving a tip that there were three bodies inside. According to the Charlotte Observer, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is not currently saying how each of the three victims involved in triple homicide were killed. However, CMPD did tell the outlet that evidence found at the scene indicates the crime was drug-related. (Plus, the gunshot fire is probably telling, as well.)
Another 19-year-old teen, Emmanuel Jesus Rangel, has already been arrested and charged with the murders of Puhar, Cosme and Gonzaga-Garcia. Rangel has also been charged with another murder in Charlotte, a homicide at the Microtel motel that occurred on Sunday. It’s currently unclear if the two cases are related beyond featuring the same suspect.
Puhar originally immigrated to the United States as a war refugee from Kosovo when she was five. Her family settled in New York and then Charlotte, where she began modeling at the age of 12. Then, at age 18, she signed on to appear in America’s Next Top Model, which airs on the CW. The 5’9 1/2 ’’ (short by America’s Next Top Model standards) model actually made it fairly far in the competition, getting eliminated in the 10th episode of the long-running competition series, which aired on October 24, 2014. Early on, she impressed the judges. But Keith Carlos ended up winning the title in the December 5 finale.
Mirjana Puhar was not a celebrity, exactly, but she was someone who TV viewers let into their homes each week. She had hopes, dreams, aspirations and a lot of love to give. She was a beautiful woman and a skilled model. Fans were able to see some of that during her extended run on the show. In a different life, she could have reached for the stars and really built a lasting modeling career. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t in the cards for the teenaged model, as she was taken from us far too soon. She deserved so much better than the nineteen years she got. Our heart goes out to her family, her friends and everyone else who was touched by her life. She’s gone too soon, and she will be missed.