NIU missing student case now homicide

October 26, 2010 8:32:23 PM PDT
An autopsy is not viable on burnt human remains found in Prairie Park where an NIU student disappeared, said the DeKalb police chief.

"Whether these remains are Toni's or not can take some time," said Chief Bill Feithen. "At this point we have no indication this is anything but an isolated innocent.

Chief Feithen said no one is in custody in the murder of Antinette Toni Keller, who was last seen on October 14. He spoke at a news conference Tuesday morning to update the search for the missing art student and said the case has been classified as a homicide even though the human remains found in Prairie Park have not been positively identified. Because they were burnt, an autopsy is not viable, Chief Feithen said. Anyone with information is asked to call police. HOTLINES: (815) 753-4NIU/ (815)

"This is a secluded park area where campfires are built. It's not unusual for campus residents to smell smoke," said Chief Feithen. He said while the fires are not allowed, they are common. "Remember it was homecoming weekend? This is a heavily used park."

The park has since been closed while detectives continue the investigation. "We isolated the park as soon as we felt it was necessary," said Chief Feithern.

"We must reserve the integrity of the investigation," said Chief Feithen when answering to calls that the police were not keeping the public informed. He said it took time to identify the remains as human because experts from out of state were called in. They are still examining the remains.

"Items that we believe belong and were consistent with what she wore and had in her possession were found in the area with these remains. We now know -- and didn't known until late Saturday-- the remains were human. As soon as we found that out we notified the Keller family and contacted the press."

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire NIU community," said Kathy Buettner, NIU spokesperson. "Isolated acts can occur anywhere as those of us who are part of this community know too well."

Buettner said campus security has been stepped up to make students as safe as possible by :

  • setting up an information hotline 815 753 4648
  • extending late night ride service from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m.
  • added 24 hour security escorts on a request basis (815) 753- 1212
  • restricted access to the residence halls
  • "The university has not withheld information from students, parents or the community," said Buettner. "We are not on lockdown."

    The school and officials are urging students to be cautious.

    "We want to remind citizens to not go into the secluded areas and report suspicious people to police and keep your doors locked," said Chief Feithen.

    "I feel kind of scared that this can happen. I know bad things have happened here before... It's kind of tough," said David Reese, student.


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