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State

More human remains found in Mackinaw River

ST. LOUIS – Investigators believe they have recovered most of the remains of a 74-year-old man whose body parts have turned up in two counties, a central Illinois coroner said Monday as two people remained jailed on charges in the man’s death.

Searchers tipped off by fishermen on the Mackinaw River found two more sets of body parts not far from where remains first were spotted by an angler on the waterway Aug. 3 near Kappa, a village of about 170 about 130 miles southwest of Chicago. Between those discoveries, authorities found other body parts in a field of the rural Secor property owned by Oakley Mitchell, whose family that day also told authorities they had not been able to locate Mitchell for days, McLean County Coroner Beth Kimmerling said.

Those circumstances led authorities to believe the remains are those of Mitchell, although confirmation will depend on the results of lab comparisons of genetic samples taken from the body parts and some of Mitchell’s relatives, Kimmerling said. It’s unclear how long such analyses might take.

Prosecutors in Woodford County have charged Rayshawn Johnson, 23, with first-degree murder, and he remained jailed Monday on $1 million bond. Vishawn Mills, 24, is accused of concealing a homicidal death and was jailed Monday on $250,000 bond.

It’s not immediately clear whether those defendants, arrested last week in Indianapolis, have attorneys.

The possible connection between Mills and Mitchell has not been disclosed. Messages left with Jason Chambers, McLean County’s state’s attorney, and his Woodford County counterpart, Greg Minger, were not returned.

Kimmerling, the coroner, declined to discuss which body parts were found where, though she said authorities have custody of most of Mitchell’s remains.

“At this point, we have a nearly complete body, or a significant portion of a body,” she said. “If any remains still were to be found, they would be smaller.”

Kimmerling added that in her 14 years as coroner, the grisly case has been something she’d never seen – and atypical of the region.

“This is something you see or read about in larger urban areas, or you see them on television. But you certainly don’t expect a case like this in central Illinois,” she said. “It’s challenging, in terms of the collection (of the remains). And there has to be multijurisdictional cooperation, which there has been. So far, everything has been working very smoothly. That’s how you want it to happen.”

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