By Jim Hagerty
ROSCOE — The Winnebago County Coroner’s Office, on Wednesday, confirmed that the body found inside a car pulled from the Rock River last weekend is that of Emily Anderson.
Anderson, also known as Emily Dull, had been missing since June 19.
The break in the case came Sunday, Oct. 8, when a resident in the 9800 block of Fantail Place spotted what appeared to be a car antenna sticking out of the Rock River behind his house. Within hours, rescue crews pulled the silver 2002 Pontiac Grand Am owned by the missing 25-year-old out of the water.
Officials then discovered her badly decomposed body in the front cab.
An autopsy performed Tuesday revealed the remains were that of a woman. Dental records were used to confirm the identity of the body.
In August, IDNR used sonar equipment to search a stretch of the Rock River. However, with heavy rains June, high water levels may have prevented searchers from locating the vehicle. Investigators also may have avoided heavily obstructed areas to protect their equipment.
“The vehicle could have been in the river, but they missed it at the time,” Loves Park Police Deputy Chief Shane Lynch said Monday. “But, I can’t say why a boat didn’t strike it or why it wasn’t found until now.”
Police are also investigating where the Pontiac entered the river, and what it may have encountered on the way to the water. The car’s windows were rolled up and the seat belts were unbuckled. Aside from existing damage to the front end, whether the car was wrecked further is not yet known.
Wherever vehicle went into the Rock River, Emily’s family is sure she did not intentionally place it there.
“We truly believe someone knows something they’re not saying,” Emily’s sister, Cait Dull, said via Facebook. “We’ve came [sic] this far and my sister deserves more than unanswered questions or worse, rumors.”
Police have not commented on the details of their investigation and whether they suspect foul play or whether the car plunged into the river accidentally. Those questions are expected upon further information from the coroner’s office. Winnebago County Coroner Bill Hintz reported Tuesday that foul play, suicide or a medical crisis are all possibilities.
There have been a host of theories about Emily’s whereabouts since she went missing after punching out from her bartending shift at Shooter’s North in the early hours of June 19. Among those theories is that she was a possible victim of sex traffickers, although she does not fit the standard victim profile.
Anderson reportedly texted a friend at around 5 a.m., saying she had been dropped off at home. A comment in another social media thread indicated Emily texted another person that she drove herself home.
Police have not commented on whether a phone was found inside Emily’s car.
The case took a serious turn in mid-July, when the prescription for Anderson’s epilepsy medication was not filled.
“Up until this point, we were at a loss as to why something had not turned up,” Lynch said. “At this point, we can move forward and conduct the investigation and hopefully get some answers. We will continue to work this until we can’t work it anymore.”
Anyone with information about the death of Emily Anderson is asked to call the Loves Park Police Department at 815-654-5015 during normal business hours. After-hours tips can be shared by calling the Loves Park Police non-emergency number at 815-282-2600.