Coroner: Body found near Crete might be missing Chicago man

Forestry and TimberBob Murphy

The skeletal remains of a man found this week inside of a car stuck on a drainage pipe could belong to  a missing Chicago man, authorities said today.

A farmer discovered tire tracks in a corn field late Tuesday afternoon and followed the tracks to a Chevrolet Lumina that was stuck on a drain pipe, said Will County Coroner Patrick O’Neil.

The man saw skeletal remains inside of the car, which was in a wooded area of a Will County forest preserve, and notified authorities, O’Neill said.

Personnel from the coroner’s office arrived at the scene near Crete-Monee Road and Western Avenue near Crete shortly before 6 p.m., O’Neill said.

Identification found in the car matched information of an 87-year-old Chicago man who was reported missing in September, O’Neill said.

Will County Forest Preserve District Police Chief Bob Murphy said his officers arrived on the scene approximately 100 feet south of Crete-Monee Road near Western Avenue at about 5:40 p.m. Tuesday.

The victim was in a 1995 Chevy Lumina in the driver's seat, slumped over into the passenger's seat. He confirmed the body was decomposed.

"It looks to us like he got disoriented and ended up between two trees," Murphy said. "After he tried to back up and turn around, he went over a drainage tile and his drive wheels became suspended. He couldn't go anymore."

Murphy said his department is treating the death as natural causes "unless we find out there was a different cause of death."
 
“The level of decomposition is consistent with the September date,” O’Neill said. “We are looking into whether the person ... in the vehicle is in fact the person missing in Chicago.”

O’Neill said the Chicago police have been contacted about the case, but so far, authorities have not made a positive identification of the victim.

O’Neill said the office was still trying to reach family members to use possible DNA testing to identify the remains.

An autopsy conducted today determined the man had medical conditions, but the exact cause of death was pending further studies, O’Neill said.

Chicago police had no immediate information available about the man who was reported missing. 

Freelance reporter Dennis Sullivan contributed.

dawilliams@tribune.com

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