JOLIET, Ill. (STMW) — A Joliet man was charged Thursday evening with killing his mother earlier in the day and dumping her body in the Des Plaines River, according to police.

Charles McCullum Jr., 21, allegedly killed Jeanie Parker in their home on Fifth Avenue. Police discovered Parker, 54, missing from the house after neighbors called them about 7 a.m. to request a well-being check.

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Police Cmdr. Brian Benton said police were initially called when McCullum rang the doorbell of a neighbor’s house and was acting erratically.

“A neighbor who talks with Parker every morning couldn’t contact her and asked police to check on her,” Benton said. “Officers found blood outside the house and drag marks through the blood.”

Fearing for Parker’s safety, police entered the two-story house and found more blood but no one inside, he said. Police followed the blood trail to the garage and saw that Parker’s 2002 Dodge Intrepid was gone, Benton said.

He said police issued an alert for the car, which was spotted and stopped about 10 a.m. on Houbolt Road with McCullum driving. He had “blood on him and there was a large amount of blood in the back seat,” according to Benton.

He said McCullum waived his rights and was taken into custody for questioning, admitting that he had killed his mother by “stabbing her repeatedly with a knife,” Benton said, adding that the two had a “history of conflict.” McCullum told police he drove to Bluff Park, south of Jefferson Street, and put his mother’s body into the river.

Police and firefighters in a boat equipped with sonar spent the afternoon and evening searching the river. McCullum was brought to the scene about 1:30 p.m. and appeared to point out a location along the river wall.

Joliet Fire Department divers began searching the river about 2:30 p.m., while Lockport Township Fire Protection District firefighters used a submersible camera to search the area. Divers estimated the water depth in that area of the river at 25 feet.

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It did not appear that anything was located after hours of searching. The search was suspended as darkness fell, Joliet Deputy Fire Chief Ray Randich said.

“This is crazy. He did not have to do this,” Cynthia Parker, the victim’s sister, said of McCullum.

Relatives said Parker was a longtime cafeteria worker at Joliet Central High School, but a school district spokeswoman said Parker was not currently employed there.

McCullum is the youngest of her three sons. The middle son also lives in the house but was not home when Parker was slain, Benton said.

Several people who knew Parker said the most important thing to her was spending time with her family.

“She was a good person. She gave anything you asked of her,” her former stepdaughter, Tammaka Frazier, said.

“I always called her the ‘First Lady’ because she always wore a hat and dressed elegant at Mount Zion Baptist Church each week,” Parker’s friend, Gwen Johnson, said.

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(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)