New details have emerged in the case of a missing student whose body was found in a forest preserve in Illinois.
The body of Vanessa Ceja-Ramirez was discovered at the Midlothian Meadows Forest Preserve two days after she was reported missing.
According to the results of an autopsy by the Cook County medical examiner’s office, the 22-year-old was sexually assaulted before she died of asphyxiation.
Ceja-Ramirez decided to take a walk in the nature preserve with her mother and friend on Monday when she disappeared and could not be reached.
Two days later, her body was found in the forest preserve, with the medical examiner describing her death as ‘beyond gruesome.’
Officers combed a two-square-mile area in search of the missing student with K-9 dogs and helicopters.
A group of volunteers found Ceja-Ramirez’s partially burned body on Wednesday at the forest preserve.
Speaking to Fox 32, community activist Andrew Holmes said: “She was beaten, partially burned and someone intercepted her, and possibly pulled her into a wooded area and basically tortured her.”
Holmes also said in an interview with WLS: “To the individual, we ain’t gonna stop. We are going to keep looking until we find out who you are, until we identify you, until you are brought to justice.”
Ceja-Ramirez’s grieving family and friends gathered for a vigil in Harvey, where she was described as the light of their community.
Her uncle, Alejandro Villegas, said: “She’s just somebody that we believed in, that had her future in her hands, just like most of our kids here.
“She was a sweet child that was humble, smiled, shy. She was a good person. And she just didn’t deserve anything of this.”
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