PEKIN — Human remains were found Monday behind a house along Illinois Route 29 south of Pekin, authorities said.
It’s unclear if the remains are those of a Pekin boy missing since last November, but dental records have been requested, according Jeff Lower, chief deputy of the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office.
“That’s pretty much going to be the way it’s going to have to be confirmed,” Lower said regarding whether the remains are of 13-year-old Robert Bee Jr. or another individual.
An autopsy is scheduled for 8 a.m. Tuesday, Lower said.
The Peoria County coroner's office is to oversee the autopsy. A dental expert is to arrive Tuesday, which is why the autopsy will take place in Peoria.
Tazewell County deputies were called about 2:15 p.m. to 14316 Illinois Route 29. The small tan frame house with a detached garage is on the east side of Route 29 about a half-mile south of the Pekin federal prison.
The owner was mowing grass behind the house when the remains were found, Lower said.
A sheriff’s-office deputy confirmed the remains were human, according to Lower. Pekin and Illinois State police arrived later, as did the Tazewell County coroner's office. At least 10 marked and unmarked police vehicles were parked along Route 29 in front of the house about 6 p.m.
"Whenever you find human remains, you have to treat it as foul play," Lower said. "If you start from there, you can work backwards."
Members of the Tazewell County Search and Rescue team combed through the wooded area behind the house Monday evening. Lower said a full skeleton was found, but different pieces had been scattered throughout the area.
"We suspect an animal may have moved them," Lower said.
A wooden flower box engraved with the words "Kendall Pub" sits on the front porch of the house. Next door is an old auto-repair business that no longer appears in use.
The house is across the street from the Glenmar baseball diamond.
Command posts were set up nearby by the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System and The Salvation Army.
State Police crime-scene investigators are in charge of the search, which was expected to take much of the evening, according to Lower. He said he has not seen the remains.
“Once we cordon off the scene, we don’t let anybody in or out,” Lower said.
No arrests have been made, according to Lower, who said it was too early for that.
Team Bonsai, a volunteer team that has been looking for clues to Bee's disappearance, was on the scene Monday.
"I got a feeling this is it," said Mary Jane Richards, a Pekin resident and member of Team Bonsai. "I'm sick to my stomach ... If it's not him, then another family's going to get closure."
Bee ran from his Sapp Street residence Nov. 17 in Pekin as a truant officer arrived to take him to school. His mother reported him missing the next day.
"We've spent so much time looking for this little boy," Richards said. "He's got to be found."
Nick Vlahos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 686-3285. Follow him on Twitter @VlahosNick. Maddie Gehling can be reached at 686-3194 or by email at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @mgehling_pjs. Tim Rosenberger of GateHouse Media Illinois contributed to this report.