UPDATED: 10/10/2010 9:04 p.m.
DEKALB, Ill. (CBS) — Northern Illinois University is encouraging students and residents of DeKalb to distribute fliers about the disappearance of Antinette Keller of Plainfield, who’s been missing since last week.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller Reports
Keller, 18, was last seen on Thursday. She had told friends that she was planning to go for a walk near the Junction Center shopping mall on West Lincoln Highway to take photographs. NIU campus police say they’ve scoured the nature trails and a broader area near campus two times now and found no clues into Keller’s disappearance.
NIU Spokesman Brad Hoey tells Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller that the search in that area has been suspended.
“So now we’re moving on to another phase of the investigation. This is a phase that involves some integration with the campus community and the local community to assist in getting information that might help locate Toni Keller,” Hoey said.
Hoey says Toni Keller’s family has been on the campus – as part of the search.
Her father, Roger Keller, told CBS 2’S Mike Parker that living through the hell of the past five days has been “very tough.” He says the family is working hard to give the searchers as many photos and as much information as they can so “they can find her as soon as possible.”
CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports that students are eager to search new areas, but at a meeting held by student affairs Tuesday, they were asked to participate, but NOT to search.
“We just want them to be safe, and if we are aware of it we will send someone out there, because we’re concerned about our students and their safety. Their parents entrust us to their safety, and as a community, we work together in keeping our students safe,” said Sgt. Alan Smith, NIU campus police.
Instead, her fellow Huskies were asked to distribute fliers with Keller’s description throughout campus and in local business districts.
Student Ben Yamamoto lives in Keller’s residence hall, and says he felt like he had to do something.
“Today, I’m going to all the houses south of where she was supposedly last seen and hand out fliers to the houses,” he said. “I just want to get the word out. This is something people need to know.”
Students were also asked to get together Tuesday night and make ribbons and buttons to increase awareness about the search for Keller, and to make cards to send the family to show their support.
School officials also reminded students to call their own parents to check in with them and update them on the situation.
At Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, where the missing student excelled in music and art and graduated in the Spring, there is also pain and fear.
Principal Bob McBride says students and her teachers know “the fact that there is a family out there that doesn’t know what happened to their daughter, doesn’t know where their daughter is, or what the outcome will be.”
According to the Daily Chronicle newspaper, Keller’s family expected her to come home to Plainfield for the weekend. When she did not call to arrange for a ride, her family became concerned.
Keller is a white female, 5 feet 6 inches tall, approximately 130 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing blue jeans, a gray jacket and a scarf and may have been carrying an art portfolio and professional-grade camera.
Parents and students can keep track of developments on the NIU website, or one of several Facebook sites started by friends.
Anyone who may have seen Keller or having information about her whereabouts should call the NIU Dept. of Public Safety at (815) 753-1212.
CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez and Mike Parker, and Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller contributed to this report.