PEKIN — The Pekin Police Department, the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department and the Illinois State Police are investigating a human skeleton that was discovered near the intersection of Illinois Route 29 and Woodford Drive in Pekin Monday afternoon, according to authorities.
Earlier Monday, grass was being mowed behind property near Route 29 and Woodford Drive, according to Tazewell County Chief Deputy Jeff Lower. The person mowing discovered human bones, which were not there when the grass was last mowed three weeks ago, according to Lower. The person mowing called the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department at 2:14 p.m.
Pekin Police, the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department and the Illinois State Police were all on scene. It is Pekin’s case, said Lower. The State Police have more resources, however, and thus were aiding in the search for all the bones, which were scattered about, Lower said. A State Police drone was being used to map out the area.
Some of the bones were found in a wooded area near Route 29 and Woodford Drive, and others were out in the open, said Lower. An entire skeleton was eventually discovered, Lower said. It is being assumed that an animal moved the bones around, Lower said. Lower did not know if the bones were that of a child or adult, nor did he know if they were male or female. Lower was not sure on whose property the bones were found.
The area where the bones were found was blocked off Monday afternoon and evening, and no one, not even Lower, was allowed in or out of the area until the investigation was over, said Lower. Around 15 search and rescue members and six to eight investigators were on scene as the area was being searched Monday afternoon and evening.
An autopsy will be performed on the bones at 8 a.m. Tuesday in Peoria. A dental expert will come in Tuesday to examine the remains, which is why the autopsy will take place in Peoria.
Team Bonsai, a volunteer team that has been looking for clues to missing Pekin boy, 13-year-old Robert Bee Jr., was on the scene but didn’t know anything.
According to Bonsai volunteer Brooke Bailey, a boyfriend of Bee’s mother had access to the property and would mow there. He left town shortly after Bee’s disappearance, according to Bailey. She said he is back in Pekin, but she doesn't know where.
Members of the Bonsai group have searched the area multiple times over the past eight months, but not around the building where remains were found. According to Mary Jane Richards, the head of the Bonsai group, a member of the Bee family steered them away from the building, saying there was no way Bee would be found there.
Richards said she is pretty confident the found remains will be Bee; however, that has not been confirmed, nor has any of the other information from Team Bonsai.
“This is him,” Richards said. “This is him.”
Bee’s dental records have been requested, Lower said, but it is standard procedure to request the dental records for all missing people in the area when remains like this are found.
Lower asks that the public be patient. He knows it is a high stress situation and that everyone wants to find Bee and have closure. Law enforcement wants to do everything “by the book,” however, and make sure everything is done correctly.
A press conference will most likely be held sometime after the autopsy Tuesday.