Forensic anthropologists are working on identifying the partial skeletal remains found on Wednesday, May 20 along the Des Plaines River near Channahon, Illinois. A DNA test should take 1-2 weeks. The gender, race and identity were unable to be determined during a preliminary autopsy.
The skeleton was found around 2 p.m. by a barge crew that had been working in the area for four days clearing logs and debris near the south shore a mile west of the Interstate 55 bridge, near the Big Basin Marina.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the "DNA testing is being done on the partial skeletal remains, which consisted of a rib cage, spinal column, and partial left and right femur bones, according to Will County Coroner Patrick O'Neil.....The remains included shreds of jeans containing a small amount of money, and the person had been dead for several months or more. The coroner's office said it was unclear how the body parts were severed."
One news outlet reported that police had found a blue barrell near the remains, but that has not been confirmed by police.
Media zeroes in on remains belonging to one of five missing people
In initial news reports, the press focused on the remains being matched to 5 people: Bradley Olsen, John Spira, Scott Arcaro, Lisa Stebic and Stacy Peterson.
The media paid close attention to developments in this case because Stacy Peterson's husband, Drew, is considered a suspect in her disappearance. Stacy's stepbrother reported unknowingly helping Peterson move a blue barrell the night she disappeared; he believes her body was inside. Stacy, who was Peterson's fourth wife, was pregnant when she disappeared. The couple had two other children.
At the time the Des Plaines remains were found, Peterson was on trial for the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. While looking into Stacy's disappearance, police learned that Kathleen had suspiciously drowned in the bathtub in 2004. If the Des Plaines remains were found, it would undoubtedly have had an impact on Peterson's trial for Savio's death.
The Lisa Stebic case also garnered interest by the press because Stebic's husband, Craig, had been named as a "person of interest" in her disappearance. Both Stebic and Peterson live near the area where the remains were found.
A check of the missing persons' posters on the National Center for Missing Adults revealed that Bradley Olsen and John Spira were last wearing jeans. According to The Charley Project and other online reports, Stacy Peterson is believed to have been wearing a red jogging suit. It is not known, or I cannot find reports, as to what Arcaro and Stebic were last wearing.
It should be noted, however, that many people are still missing in Illinois.
Additional evidence found
On Saturday, May 23, additional items of evidence were recovered from the Des Plaines River near the location were the remains were found Police have not said what was found or how, or if, it is related to the remains.
Victim's remains are male (Stacy Peterson and Lisa Stebic ruled out)
On May 27, the Illinois State Police confirmed that the remains belonged to a male. The identity of the victim and cause of death are still being investigated, however, the determination rules out previous speculation that the remains belonged to missing women Stacy Peterson and Lisa Stebic.
Remains do not belong to John Spira or Bradley Olsen
On June 1, the families of John Spira and Bradley Olsen told Newsradio 780 that the remains found along the Des Plaines River were not those of their loved ones.
Stephanie McNeil, who is John Spira's sister, said she was told on Friday, May 29 that the remains did not belong to her brother. "Just based on what I know, though, I didn't think that it would be John, so my hopes weren't up too high," she said. "But still, it was a little disappointing. It would be nice if we could find him and have all this be over."
A June 3 report by WGN9 News of Chicago states that "DuPage County sheriff's office detectives investigating Spira's disappearance used DNA comparisons to determine the remains did not belong to him."
Bradley Olsen's mother, Susan, was also notified late that same week that the remains did not belong to her son. 'As family of the missing,' Susan Olsen says, 'We all want to find closure in some way. It's been a long time for us now. I know there's many families that go for many, many years and maybe never find their loved ones. But two-and-a-half years is a long time and we're prepared and ready to give Brad justice.'
It was not reported what specifically eliminated Olsen from belonging to the remains.
Illinois State Police enlists forensic anthropologists
On June 22, 2009, WBBM Newsradio 780 reported that forensic anthropologists forensic anthropologists in Indiana have been enlisted to help identify the [Des Plaines] remains." According to Illinois State Police Lieutenant Luis Gutierrez, " 'We requested the assistance of the anthropologist to be able to help identify who this individual is. What that will help us determine is the height, the weight, the race of this individual, so we can put that information out to the public to assist us in identifying him.' The Indiana forensic anthropologists declined to comment but say they are in the process of completing a report. "