Body of missing Chicago pastor found in vehicle in Des Plaines River – NBC Chicago

The body of a missing Chicago pastor, who was last seen last week, has been found along with his vehicle in the Des Plaines River in Rockdale, the Will County coroner said.

Reverend Warren Beard of the New Israelite Missionary Baptist Church was last seen on July 2 in Joliet, when his vehicle was spotted on a license plate camera near the intersection of Jefferson Street and Larkin Avenue around 10:30 p.m.

Firefighters confirmed a vehicle was found in the Des Plaines River around 2:45 p.m. Tuesday, nearly four hours after authorities were notified of video footage showing a vehicle entering the river Tuesday evening.

Although authorities did not initially confirm the identity of the body found, Beard’s family told NBC Chicago that the remains found in the vehicle were those of Warren Beard. The Will County coroner later confirmed that the remains were Beard’s.

Beard, who was an assistant pastor and Sunday school teacher at the church, was 53 years old.

“He was the best person. One of the best men I’ve ever met,” said Pastor Chenier Alston. Alston worked with Beard at the church for 18 years.

Police said at a news conference Tuesday night that a fisherman near where Beard’s vehicle entered the water heard a loud noise, but when he walked closer to where the noise was heard, he saw nothing.

On Monday, community members gathered at the Auburn Gresham church to pray.

“Reverend Beard is a very important person to us,” Alston said.

Alston called Beard Tuesday night around 8:30 p.m.

“He was jovial, he was happy, he was joking as always. And the phone call ended with, as we always end it, ‘I love you,'” Alston said.

That was the last time he, or anyone in Beard’s family, heard from him.

“We’re all going through a difficult time right now,” said Beard’s aunt, Theresa Boss-French. “We all know that Reverend Warren Beard is not someone who would just disappear without saying a word to his family.”

According to his family, the father of five often visited Joliet because he had friends in the area. But he didn’t come home Tuesday night and didn’t show up Wednesday morning to work with the Preservation of Affordable Housing.

“This is not his thing,” Alston said. “He wouldn’t leave his family and not come home.”

According to the police, the investigation has found no evidence of a crime.

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