Body found in Midlothian forest preserve ID'd as Harvey woman who went missing on walk

MIDLOTHIAN, Ill. (WLS) -- A body found in a south suburban forest preserve Wednesday has been identified as a young Harvey woman who disappeared while on a walk in the area.

Vanessa Ceja Ramirez was last seen Monday afternoon. She'd been walking with her mother in the forest preserve, but decided to separate and said she'd meet her later at the car. The 22-year-old teaching aide never made it.

Police were called and helicopters and dogs were dispatched to the two-square-mile triangle. They picked up Vanessa's scent at 151st and Pulaski and then her cellphone's last ping, which led investigators to this apartment building two miles away in Oak Forest. A police canvass found nothing.

"Come back, we are here for you," her mother said, pleading for her safe return. "We want to take care of you, we want it to be good."

As friends and family gathered Wednesday afternoon to search the woods, suddenly police asked everyone to leave.

Forest preserve police confirmed a woman's body was found in the area. The Cook County medical examiner's office identified the woman's body as Ceja Ramirez Wednesday evening.

"Whatever information you may have, if you just saw Vanessa at a split second, say something to someone about it," Harvey Mayor Christopher Clark urged the public.

The medical examiner is still working to determine how Ceja Ramirez died. An autopsy is planned for Thursday.

Her family fears she may have been the victim of foul play. Her loved ones gathered for a vigil in Harvey Wednesday night, where they remembered her as the light of her family and community. In addition to working, relatives said Ceja Ramirez was also going to college.

"She's just somebody that we believed in, that had our future in her hands, just like most of our kids here," said Alejandro Villegas, her uncle. "She was a sweet child that was humble, smiled, shy. She was a good person. And she just didn't deserve anything of this."

The Cook County Sheriff will handle the investigation into her death, forest preserve police said.
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