Missing NIU student’s items found

DEKALB, Ill. — DeKalb police are still working to identify human remains found in a park where a missing Northern Illinois University student was thought to be going.

But police say they recovered items consistent with property belonging to NIU student Antinette “Toni” Keller, who disappeared Oct. 14 after saying she was going to walk toward the park. And they say they’ve reclassified their search for the 18-year-old Plainfield woman as a death investigation.

Police said Sunday that any further information will be released through the NIU website.

Meanwhile, NIU officials locked the doors to all dormitories, increased police patrols and extended the hours for campus buses.

NIU has provided a variety of resources for the students and community. Counseling services are being provided for students and staff, and security has been increased on campus. Some of the increased security includes: late night ride services hours extended 4 p.m. to 8 a.m., security escorts are available 24 hours to students, visitors and staff and residence halls are restricted to residents of that hall.

The remains were found in Prairie Park, just south of Illinois Route 38.

The death comes as a shock to the NIU campus community, and many are coming together to show their support.

“After going through (the NIU shooting) and seeing how it affects the campus as a whole, it personally affects me even though I wasn’t on campus,” said Patrick Korellis, 2008 NIU alumnus. “It affected me because something happened to a NIU student that shouldn’t have happened. It was cruel, and it reminds me of how scary it was.”

Korellis said the community’s solidarity after the 2008 shooting made coping easier.

“Seeing all this unfold just reminded me of what NIU did for me when I went through such a hard situation, seeing all the support (after the shooting), that’s what helped me,” he said.

Lauren Stott, editor-in-chief of NIU’s newspaper The Northern Star, said she a noticed a change in the atmosphere after the body was discovered.

“It definitely has been different. People have been more aware of their surroundings, more on edge,” Stott said. “Also people have just been a shoulder support, just trying to make sure that (Keller’s family) knows how important she was to the community.”

Mikey J. Wians, an undergraduate student at NIU, said the campus held a memorial service earlier in the week.

“Today, they held a memorial for her, and people gathered for her to pay respect. A lot of people were there. It got everybody together and the whole school was like a family,” Wians said.

The aftereffects of the death are being felt at U of I as well – as students with personal connections to NIU are reevaluating their own safety.

“We’ve all been alone once or twice before. I think it’s scary to see campuses aren’t as safe as we think they are. With increasing crime rates here, it’s definitely caused tensions here,” said Jackie Jeffries, sophomore in Media.

“I have a lot of friends who go to NIU and I live 30 minutes outside of DeKalb. A lot of my friends are really shaken about it,” Jeffries said. “She (Keller) probably thought she wasn’t going to be harmed at all, going into an arboretum. It really opens my eyes that I can’t be so lenient when I’m venturing out to places that we think are safe.”

From The Associated Press and Daily Illini Staff Reports