Authorities were continuing their search Tuesday morning for the body of a Joliet woman who has been missing since last week, and believed to have been killed by her son.
JOLIET, Ill. (STMW) – As snow fell on the Des Plaines River Monday morning, firefighters and three volunteers from the Lee-based Midwest Canine Emergency Response Team used a boat to bring the search dogs along the river one at a time.
The dogs, able to detect oils and scent from a human body even through the water, were looking for the body of Jeanie Parker. She’s been missing since last week; her son charged in her murder.
“Thank you for being out there,” Cynthia Parker-Mackins, Jeanie’s sister, shouted from the shore. “Just find her, please find her.”
Jeanie Parker, 54, was reported missing Thursday after a neighbor in the 100 block of Fifth Avenue couldn’t contact her for their morning chat. The neighbor also reported seeing Parker’s son, Charles “C.J.” McCullum, 21, acting erratically.
Police found pools and splatters of blood throughout the house and garage, according to reports. McCullum later was stopped driving his mother’s blue Dodge Intrepid on Houbolt Road with more blood in the car and on his clothes, Cmdr. Brian Benton said.
McCullum allegedly admitted choking his mother, then stabbing her with two knives after an argument. He then drove to Bluff Park and put her body in the river near the veterans memorial.
McCullum has been charged with murder and is being held in the county jail on $5 million bond.
Authorities, however, have been unsuccessful in locating her body. Two cadaver-sniffing dogs were put in boats Monday to search for her body.
Parker’s brother, Darrell Williams, and his wife, Lovett, watched Monday’s search efforts.
It appeared both animals “alerted” near the railroad bridge south of the park, but the 10- to 12-foot depth means the scent they picked up on is coming from somewhere in a 100 to 120-foot circle, Benton said.
Divers went in again around 7:30 p.m. after the sonar equipment was used near the railroad bridge where the dogs had reacted. But they were not able to find anything in the murky water and planned to resume their search Tuesday, police said.
Bridgetenders and the operators of the downstream Brandon Road Lock and Dam are also watching for Parker’s body. Police report the Lock and Dam was not opened between the time she was reported missing and learning McCullum had put her in the river.
Will County Coroner Patrick K. O’Neil said weather will be the biggest factor in when Parker’s body surfaces if divers are unable to find it.
“Ultimately the body will start to float, but the temperature of the water determines how fast those gases develop,” he said.
The last body pulled from the Des Plaines River was on Jan. 18 and is believed to have been in for three weeks. The 31-year-old man had been despondent after losing his home to foreclosure and was reported missing Dec. 29.
Parker-Mackins said about 55 people gathered for a vigil held Sunday night in front of her sister’s home and another would be held when her body is found.
“We’re not stopping,” she said. “The police department can stop, fire department can stop. We are not stopping. Our sister’s gone, but she will never be forgotten.”