Remains of woman who lived in Kewanee, Galesburg, Galva areas identified

Local News

A long-unidentified body with links to Galva, Galesburg and Kewanee, discovered near Thomasboro, Ill., has been identified.

The remains of Keri Lyn Wyant, born in 1971 in Galesburg, were identified by the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office/Coroner’s Office, a Tuesday news release says.

Remains discovered

On May 1, 1995, the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office and the Champaign County Coroner’s Office responded to a report of human remains in a farm field outside of Thomasboro, Ill.

An agriculture worker preparing a field for the spring planting discovered the skeletonized remains, along with some clothing and two rings.
The coroner’s office determined the death was a homicide.

Over the years, detectives at the sheriff’s office collaborated with the coroner’s office in the investigation, including forensic clay and computer-generated facial reconstruction, forensic artist sketches, forensic isotope analysis, and featured reports on the “America’s Most Wanted” show and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons website.

DNA collections and tests were completed with no success, but advancements in DNA technology coupled with “genetic genealogy” emerged within the last couple of years and ultimately led to the identification.

Detectives from the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office pieced together that during 1989 and 1990 Wyant attended Galva High School.

Detectives, with information from Stark County Sheriff Steve Sloan, were referred to one of Wyant’s relatives.

Detectives spoke with more than one of Keri’s relatives and DNA samples were collected from her parents and sent out for comparison against samples previously collected, and confirmed her identify.

Wyant, at 14, moved out of her parents’ residence in 1985 to live with other relatives for a short period. She then possibly moved out of her relative’s home and reportedly stayed at the Southside Mission in Peoria.

Her whereabouts were mostly unknown from late 1985-1988.

Work history

From 1989 through 1991, Wyant is believed to worked at Gustavo’s Tacos, Market Street Café, and Taco House, Galva; and Hardee’s, Galesburg.

She also worked:

  • For Helen Donato and Nunzi Mangieri in Abingdon, Ill.
  • Parco Ltd., a Dubuque, Iowa, franchisee for Wendy’s restaurants in Illinois.
  • For an Illinois company owned or operated by Springwood Associates Ltd., Partnership in East Aurora, New York. The company name and type of business is unknown.
  • A company owned or operated by K&L Retail in Columbus Junction, Iowa. The name of the company is unknown.
  • Bilco Enterprises, Inc., believed to be at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Peoria.
  • BJS or BJs Restaurant in Peoria.
  • The I-10 gas station/restaurant in Fina, Texas.

Wyant returns to Galesburg, gives birth

Detectives found and spoke with one of Wyant’s former friends, and learned Wyant reappeared in Galesburg in February 1994. She appeared to have no place to stay and was about seven months pregnant.

Wyant had a son in May of 1994, and stayed with her friend, living in Kewanee until about June 1994.

When her son was about two months old, she joined a carnival operated at the Henry County Fair in Cambridge, Ill., leaving her son in the care of the friend.

Wyant reportedly continued to work for the carnival and traveled to the next carnival venue and event 30-45 minutes away from Cambridge.

Detectives identified the 1994 Henry County Fair carnival operator as being Swyear Amusements based in New Athens, Ill. The company owner traced the various locations of the fair but did not remember Wyant as an employee.

Detectives ask the public to help provide names of Wyant’s friends, acquaintances, or others who interacted with her. In the last two years before her death, she likely spent time in the Little Rock, Ark., area before she returned to her last-known residence in Kewanee.

To provide information, contact Detective Dwayne Roelfs or Lt. Curt Apperson in the Criminal Investigations Division of Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, 217-384-1213.

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