CHICAGO (CBS)–The charred remains found in a barrel in suburban Lockport Township last week were identified on Saturday as Ashley Tucker, a missing 25-year-old woman from southwest suburban Joliet.
Tucker’s body was reportedly found on the property of a family member of sex offender Peter Zabala, 42, who has an extensive criminal record and several orders of protection against him.
Zabala was released from jail on bond a few days before Tucker disappeared after leaving a party on Oct. 13. He is believed to be the last person who saw her alive.
The Illinois Sex Offender Registry cites charges for murder with the intent to kill or injure and aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim between the ages of 13 and 16.
Zabala, of Joliet, was released from prison in 2011, and since then two separate woman have filed for orders of protection against him on five different occasions.
Last month Zabala was charged with four counts domestic battery.
Eric Pinnick, a lifelong friend of Zabala, said he though he knew him well, but know he’s unsure of his true personality.
“We went to grade school together, high school together (and) we worked together all through the years,” Pinnick said.
But after watching police remove Tucker’s remains from a charred barrel and Zabala could be connected, Pinnick doesn’t know what to think.
“I couldn’t believe it at first,” Pinnick said. “Knowing that he had that background, why would they release him on bond? I couldn’t understand that.”
While Zabala is considered a “sexual predator,” we’ve learned he’s not on a list of sex offenders who require parole supervision or mandatory supervised release from the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Christopher Wober, Zabala’s neighbor, said he doesn’t think Zabala should have been out on parole.
His address is listed on the Illinois Sex Offender Registry as 112 Girard Blvd. in Joliet, but a woman who lives there said he hasn’t been there in months. She was also surprised to learn about his criminal past.
The woman, who asked to keep her identity secret, said she never felt like she was in danger when he was around.
Zabala is being held without bond in Will County.
Tucker’s official cause of death is still pending.