Body pulled from river identified as missing Edwards woman

By WEEK Producer

October 8, 2013 Updated Oct 8, 2013 at 6:52 PM CDT

CHILLICOTHE, Ill. -- The Peoria County Coroner has confirmed that the body found in a car pulled from the Illinois River is that of Julie Peters.

The 22-year-old Edwards woman was reported missing by family late last month.

The Coroner said Peters was identified through dental records.

An autopsy showed no evidence of trauma and that Peters likely drowned. Toxicology test have been ordered.

Peters' car was located by two Southern Illinois University researchers just two blocks from where Peters was last seen.

Wes Bouska and Justin Rosenquist are researchers at SIU. They are studying asian carp numbers in the Illinois River.

While making their way up river, they stopped in Chillicothe on Monday. Former Chillicothe Police Chief Steve Maurer spotted them and told them about Peters.

"He came down and approached us, told us about this missing girl, which we weren't aware of it at all, and he asked if we would mind putting our equipment in and scanning in front of the boat ramps,” Bouska said. “He suspected that potentially her car had gone in the river.”

Peters was last seen at the American Legion Hall. It appears that somehow her car made it down Walnut Street, which leads right into the Chillicothe boat ramp.

The researchers said they found the car a short distance away in about 8 feet of water.

"We cruised back and forth in front of the boat ramps and we saw something that looked like it was probably a car,” Bouska said.

The search only took them about 10 minutes. They say they were happy to help and hope the discovery will provide closure.

"We just showed up at the right time, right place,” Bouska said. “He asked us for our help and we were more than happy to help."

Police are still investigating exactly how Peters' car got into the river.

In the meantime, family members have set up a donation fund for Peters. Donations can be made at any CEFCU location.