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Remains Found In December Identified As Illinois Mother Who Vanished In 2003

Police are now asking for any leads that could help them find out who killed Tyesha Bell.

Tyesha Bell Pd

Police in Illinois have identified remains found late last year as those of a young mother who went missing nearly 20 years ago, and authorities now need the public’s help in identifying her possible killer.

The remains, located in December in the Kane County area, have been positively identified as Tyesha Bell, 22, the Aurora Police Department announced during a press conference on Tuesday. Bell, a mother of two, was last seen in May 2003 by her sister in the apartment they shared in Aurora; after she received a phone call, Bell went outside, leaving her children with family and candles still burning, and was never seen again, police said.

An 18-year investigation ensued but did not yield results until her skeletal remains were found in a shallow grave in a wooded area of Kane County. Clothing and other personal belongings were also found in the grave, but did not help to reveal her identity.

The Kane County coroner was able to work with a forensic dentist and a forensic bone specialist to create a profile of the victim: an African American woman between the ages of 24 and 40 years old, whose cause of death was a homicide. Police found a match to that description in their missing person’s cases, and the crime lab was later able to confirm that the remains were, in fact, a match to Bell.

Bell’s case is considered an open investigation and authorities are asking for the public’s help in finding justice for the beloved mother and daughter.

“Our detectives continue to work 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 Department's Bureau of Investigative Services Commander Jack Fichtel said. “We implore anyone who may have information to please come forward.”

Following Bell’s disappearance, police interviewed an unidentified person of interest in the case but after searching that person’s home and car, the lead fizzled out, according to a 2004 story in the Chicago Tribune. However, Bell’s mother, Lorna Smith, told the outlet that she was not giving up hope in her daughter’s case and that she was still distributing missing person flyers.

“I just keep posting them, hoping somebody will see something. Say something. Somebody knows,” Smith said.

Bell’s family has not commented publicly on the development in her case, and during Tuesday’s press conference, police asked that their privacy be respected.

Authorities have created a tip line specifically for Bell’s case, which can be reached by calling 630-256-5517. Information can also be submitted electronically by emailing tips@aurora.il.us or shared anonymously by calling Aurora Area Crime Stoppers at (630) 892-1000, the latter of which is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

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