EAST PEORIA — A 12-year-old boy who was part of a search party to find a missing relative Wednesday instead discovered the partially-decomposed remains of an unidentified person.
EAST PEORIA — A 12-year-old boy who was part of a search party to find a missing relative Wednesday instead discovered the partially-decomposed remains of an unidentified person. Authorities were called to a patch of trees behind Fondulac Plaza, near the 2500 block of East Washington Street, shortly after 12:15 p.m. Wednesday after Preston Jefford of Washburn found the remains. The Tazewell County Coroner’s Office had not identified the body or its gender Wednesday afternoon. Jefford followed a path that led from a stretch of concrete behind the shopping plaza into the wooded area and kept looking after seeing a McDonald’s bag and inhalant cans. “I went back there and then I saw like bones on a chest, like ribs,” Jefford said. “I asked my mom, ‘Is that what I think it is?’ And then I saw the skull.” Jefford and his mother, Kristy Jefford, were part of a search party for their cousin, Jeff Kennedy, who is schizophrenic and had been missing for several days. The Jefford family and the rest of the search party had been assured by authorities that it was not Kennedy’s remains that were found Wednesday. Kennedy was located Wednesday night, according to the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office. The remains were removed by the coroner’s office about 4:40 p.m. Wednesday, and an autopsy is scheduled for noon Thursday. The East Peoria Police Department, Illinois State Police and the coroner’s office are investigating the discovery of the body. East Peoria police Sgt. Brian Despines said no further information will be released until Thursday’s autopsy is complete. A separate central Illinois family is searching for Ryan Sailors, a homeless East Peoria man who hasn’t been seen by family or friends in more than a week.