Earlier this evening, Northern Illinois University officials were notified by the DeKalb County Major Case Squad that the probe into the disappearance of 18-year-old Antinette “Toni” Keller has been reclassified as a death investigation.
“Toni” Keller has been missing since early afternoon on October 14, when she told friends she was going for a walk in a 150-acre nature preserve south of the Union Pacific-Santa Fe railroad tracks in DeKalb. Toni was a freshman at NIU from Plainfield, Illinois and a graduate of Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville.
The DeKalb County Major Case Squad, comprised of police units including DeKalb, NIU, Sycamore, DeKalb County and Illinois State Police have discovered human remains and items consistent with property belonging to Toni Keller.
DeKalb County Major Case Squad investigators are requesting the public to report any suspicious activity or persons in Prairie Park in DeKalb on or about the time and date of Toni’s disappearance on October 14, 2010 to 815-748-8407.
“The work of the Major Case Squad is far from done,” said DeKalb Police Chief Bill Feithen. “More than 40 investigators are working around the clock and are pursuing every lead, analyzing every piece of evidence and leaving no stone unturned in our investigation.”
As a result of this news, NIU officials, in conjunction with the Northern Illinois University Police Department, implemented heightened campus safety and security measures. Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, Dr. Brian Hemphill, cautioned students to be extra careful as they move about the campus and the DeKalb community. Students should preferably move about the community in groups of three or more.
NIU Police have increased their presence around the campus. NIU Police are extending the normal “late night ride service” to a 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. schedule beginning tonight. Students are encouraged to take advantage of this service, especially if they are unable to find a group of three or more students to travel with in and around the campus. The ride service can be accessed by calling 815-753-2222.
NIU Police are also making available security escorts for any NIU students, faculty or staff in and around the campus on a 24-hour basis. Security escorts can be arranged by calling NIU police at 815-753-1212.
Campus residence hall access will be restricted to hall residents only. Students will need their official NIU OneCard to gain access.
The university has established an information hotline at 815-753-4NIU (4648). Calls will be answered tonight from 9 p.m. until midnight and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, October 24, 2010. Parents and students who have questions are encouraged to contact the university’s information hotline. Additional safety and security information about the NIU campus is available at http://www.niu.edu/emergencyinfo/safety/index.shtml.
Counselors are available to talk with NIU students tonight in the Neptune Central Smart Classroom (by the Fireside Lounge) from 9 p.m. until midnight. Tomorrow (Sunday), students can meet with counselors in the Counseling and Student Development Center in the Campus Life Building from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Counseling and Student Development Center can be reached at 815-753-1206.
The campus will remain open and classes will follow the regular schedule.