Teen Death

By: Erica Hurtt
By: Erica Hurtt

Tests show drowning was the cause of death for a Lena High School student found Thursday in the Pecatonica River. Seventeen-year-old Matthew Scheiss had been missing since November 1.

When Matthew Scheiss went missing at a Halloween party in rural Stephenson County, no one wanted it to end this way.

"These two weeks have been hell. It's been a living hell. Because we haven't had a lot of answers now we have an answer but we will still have a lot of questions."

Matthew’s body was pulled from the Pecatonica River Thursday afternoon, just a day before his mother Doreen's birthday. Sharon gave Doreen this drawing for her birthday and said it reminded her of Doreen and her angel Matthew.

"He was a little stinker sometimes, but he always had a smile. He always had the biggest smile on his face."

The family will hold a visitation for Matthew at Leamon's Funeral Home on Monday night. A big turnout is expected as the community has been very supportive of the Schiess's and their tragedy.

"It was a sad time but it was also a joyous time because we knew how many people cared about Matthew," says Scheiss.

So many things about Matthew's disappearance and death bother the Scheiss's, but most troubling is the idea that dozens maybe hundreds of under aged drinkers were gathered at the party in McDonnell, a party reportedly organized by someone's grandparents.

"I'm a great grandma and these people are older than me and they're throwing this party. I have a hard time with that. It's not right,” says Sharon.

It's been a long and excruciating two weeks for the Scheiss family but they say the outpouring of support from the community has made it a bit easier. The family is considering a lawsuit as they believe negligence was involved. Matthew’s funeral will take place on Tuesday.


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