Skeletal remains found late last year have been identified as an Illinois mother who disappeared without a trace in 2003, authorities said.
The remains of Tyesha Bell, 22, were found in Kane County in December, Aurora police announced at a news conference Tuesday.
DNA testing done by Illinois State Police confirmed the mother of two’s death nearly 18 years after she was last seen by her sister in their shared apartment west of Chicago in May 2003, police said.
“After receiving a telephone call, she left home but left the television on candles burning in her bedroom and her two young children with family members and hasn’t been seen or heard from since,” police said in a statement.
Investigators had worked on the missing person’s case for almost 18 years before Bell’s remains, clothing and some personal items were found in a shallow grave in a wooded area on Dec. 11, the Aurora Beacon-News reported.
Detectives suspected foul play from the outset and questioned a person of interest, but no one was ever charged, the newspaper reported.
Kane County Coroner Rob Russell created a profile of the human remains with the help of a dentist and a bone specialist and sent DNA to a state police lab to be analyzed. Bell’s death is now being investigated as a homicide, although police declined to release her cause of death, according to the report.
Bell’s mother, Lorna Smith, had previously raised a $10,000 reward for information leading to a break in the case. Smith told the Beacon-News that Bell would not have left behind her two daughters, Tiniya and Tiarra, whom Smith is now raising, the newspaper reported.
Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying whoever killed Bell.
“Our detectives continue to have working theories in Tyesha’s case, but we need more information before criminal charges can be authorized, and that’s where the public comes in,” Aurora police Cmdr. Jack Fichtel said. “We implore anyone who may have information to please come forward.”
Anyone with information in the case should call a dedicated tip line at (630) 256-5517. A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered for information leading to an arrest, police said.