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A Chicago college student who disappeared in April was found dead in Lake Michigan as the search continues for her missing boyfriend.
Natally Brookson, 22, was last seen on April 30 after leaving her job near the 5500 block of North Maplewood Avenue in Chicago, according to Chicago’s WGN-TV. On May 2, officials with the Chicago Fire Department found the woman’s body in Lake Michigan near the 5500 block of North Sheridan Avenue – about two miles from where she was last seen.
The identity of her remains was determined on Thursday. Officials with the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office have yet to determine the cause and manner of Brookson’s death.
Brookson’s boyfriend is Daniel Sotelo, 26, who was reported missing one day before Brookson, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Sotelo was last seen near the 1700 block of South Racine Avenue and has not been seen since, police said.
The two were in a dating relationship, and both were students at the University of Illinois Chicago.
Brookson reportedly withdrew for the spring semester, according to CBS News. Brookson’s co-worker, Thet Wai Aung, told the outlet that the missing woman quit her job on the day she disappeared.
Aung said Brookson hadn’t expressed any concerns for her safety.
“No, she never told me anything like that,” said Aung. “There’s a lot of missing piece[s] that [don't] make sense.”
Sotelo was last seen by his roommate, who stated he dropped him off at the Roosevelt Red Line train station near Roosevelt Road, according to Fox Chicago affiliate WFLD. The roommate last saw Sotelo heading north.
Sotelo’s sister, Jennifer, told the outlet that Sotelo missed his graduation ceremony and that he was days away from earning his master’s degree in organic chemistry, according to the Fox outlet. Sotelo had also discussed his plans for his future, which included continuing his work on a Naperville farm.
“It’s very tough; I can only imagine as a parent how that would feel to have one of your kids go missing,” said Sotelo’s sister. “I would just tell him, ‘Please, come home; you’ve got a lot of family members, friends, cousins who are worried about you, and we just want to hear from you.’”
Sotelo’s family members believed he could have been with Brookson when he disappeared but claimed they had no way of proving it, according to WFLD.
Friends of Natally Brookson created a GoFundMe page to raise funds for funeral costs and other expenses.
“Natally was such a caring, smart, and strong woman,” loved ones wrote. “She was loved by everyone and always radiated positivity. Natally was the most best friend anyone could ask for. She always was encouraging and wanted what was best for you. She has always been there even when life got busy.”
According to the campaign, Brookson was a senior at the university, pursuing a degree in psychology while working as a dietary aide at Friedman Place, a community for blind adults.
A missing person’s flyer sent by the Chicago Police Department to Oxygen.com lists Sotelo as a Hispanic male with brown hair and brown eyes weighing around 155 pounds and five feet, eight inches tall. He is known to make visits in the area of 6100 Block of N. Winthrop.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Chicago Police Department Area 3 SVU at 1-312-744-8266 or Det. Dozono at 1-312-744-8200.
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