It's been almost three years since a young Capron woman disappeared. Her family and police have searched and sent out requests for information, but there's been no response until lately.
On December 15 of 2001, Michelle McLaughlin bought a bus ticket in Rockford and headed to Champaign to visit friends. Three days later she called her parents in Capron, telling them she was headed home. She had bought a ticket to Chicago. That was December 18 and the last time she was ever heard from.
Ever since then the Boone County Sheriff's Department has searched high and low. Using all the tools at its disposal to find this missing young woman, everything came up cold, but then a week ago this past Friday, November 12, news came that Michelle McLaughlin was dead. She had died in Milwaukee, but the surprise to local authorities was that Michelle had been dead for three years. The day after she had talked to her parents, Michelle McLaughlin died in a fall at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Downtown Milwaukee.
She had no identification and no one knew who she was. Two months after her death, Michelle was buried in an unmarked grave in Milwaukee County. According to Sgt. Perry Gay of the Boone County Sheriff's Department, Michelle's dental records had been submitted to a national crime computer for cross referencing with other missing people.
But it wasn't until recently when the dental records of the unknown woman in Milwaukee were checked by the county medical examiner that she was identified as Michelle. There's no word if Michelle's remains will be exhumed and then re-interred in Boone County.
This is one cold case now closed by the Boone County Sheriff's Department, but there are still plenty others open and constantly being investigated. For Michelle's family, there is closure, but for many others the pain of not knowing continues.