More than one year after a young Illinois mother went missing, her remains have been found across state lines in Indiana.
Jessica Flores, a 36-year-old mother of six from South Chicago Heights, disappeared in Gary, Indiana in February 2019, with authorities stating then that they believed she was murdered, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
However, her body was not recovered until April 9, when an employee of the city came across her remains in a wooded area, according to the outlet.
After the worker found a human skull and other bones, local police, deputies with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, and cadaver dogs searched the area, and more of Flores’ remains were found, The Times Of Northwest Indiana reports. The Lake County coroner's office was then able to use dental records to identify the remains as Flores, authorities told the paper.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return a request for comment from Oxygen.com.
Flores and another woman, Melina Cottrell, both vanished after last being seen in a Facebook Live video in February, according to a 2019 CBS Chicago report. But while Cottrell was found alive the following month, the search for Flores continued with little success. Shortly after Flores' disappearance, her boyfriend’s car was found in South Chicago Heights; it had been burned, and inside there was blood, as well as items that belonged to Flores, ABC7 Chicago reports.
Flores’ boyfriend, 42-year-old Drew “Tiny” Carter III, was charged with her murder in March 2019, according to The Times of Northwest Indiana. An unnamed witness told police that she was in a car with Carter and Flores and witnessed them arguing throughout the day; Carter, at one point, asked Flores if he could have sex with the witness, and when Flores said no, Carter allegedly turned around and shot Flores with a revolver, the witness said, according to court documents obtained by the paper.
That charge was dropped in September after Indiana State Police told state prosecutors that they needed more time to process the evidence, The Times reports. However, Carter has since been charged with Flores’ murder again, according to PEOPLE.
Carter denied killing Flores during a March 2019 court appearance, telling her family, "I didn't do it," according to another Times report.
Following the discovery of Flores’ body, sister Mady Perez said that the family was glad she’d been found, ABC7 Chicago reports.
“We want to thank everyone who came out to help search for my sister Jessica and have kept her in prayers,” Perez said. “We will not stop until we get justice for my sister. Her children and my mother deserve this. My sister is now free.”
Authorities suspect that Flores’ murder is tied to six other killings that occurred within a time span of three weeks last spring, The Times of Northwest Indiana reported earlier this month.
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