While the Alaska State Patrol investigated the death of a Coon Rapids woman, her sister and colleagues wondered Thursday what Theresa Bongert was doing in the wilderness, where her body was found 7 miles from her car parked along the Denali Highway.

No foul play is suspected in the death of the 26-year-old. Her body was discovered Tuesday in a desolate area with few distinct features, said Megan Peters, of the Alaska State Patrol.

"When she needed to think, she liked to go on hikes," Rose Morris, Bongert's sister, said from her home near La Crosse, Wis. "The big question for us is: What was she doing in Alaska? We had no idea she was there."

Nor did many of Bongert's colleagues, said Keith Maahs, sales manager for the Coldwell Banker Burnet real estate office in Coon Rapids. Bongert was an agent there.

"She told another agent she was going to be gone and needed help with a couple of files," Maahs said.

"She never gave us an inkling that she was going to Alaska."

Bongert, who was not married, was a small-town central Wisconsin girl who spent two years in Africa with the Peace Corps after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, her sister said.

She came to the Twin Cities last year and was hired to work at a research facility, her sister said. A month later, she was laid off.

When her real estate license was activated in November, she was hired by Coldwell Banker Burnet, Maahs said.

"She was a great agent, a dynamite self-starter who took off running, right out of the gate," Maahs said.

Bongert orchestrated a closing on Feb. 28 and was seen in the office a day or two later, Maahs said. She sent another colleague a text message that week.

"Can't talk right now ... losing the signal," it ended, according to Maahs.

Paul Levy • 612-673-4419