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Champaign’s Jane Doe is Henry County’s Keri Wyant

Beth Welbers
bwelbers@geneseorepublic.com

She used to walk among us. She attended Galva High School at least for 2 years, never graduating. Keri Lyn Wyant was born in Galesburg IL in October 1971. She left her parents home, then in Galva, at the age of 14 to move in with other family members. Reportedly, Wyant may have spent some time in the Peoria homeless shelter.

Wyant worked by investigators accounts, at a number of fast food restaurants, including Gustavo's Tacos, Market Street Cafe and the Taco House in Galva. She also spent time at Hardee's in Galesburg, an unknown location in Abiingdon, Dunkin Donuts and BJ's Restaurant in Peoria and a gas station/restaurant combination in Fina TX. These happened between 1989 and 1994.

In early 1994 she turned up again in Galesburg, pregnant. In May 1994, she gave birth to a boy, and gave him to a friend she was living with at the time in Kewanee. She then joined Swyear Amusements, a traveling carnival that came through for the 1994 Henry County Fair. Investigators think she may have spent some time in Little Rock AR, in the period before her body was located by a farm worker, who was preparing for spring planting in a field outside of Thomasboro, IL. That was May 1, 1995.

Champaign County Sheriff's Office and the Champaign County Coroner's office had few leads to go on. Wyant died of either blunt force trauma, or a possible gunshots.

Forensics have come leaps and bounds since that spring day her bones were found, along with a few bits of clothing and two rings. Over the years, attempts to identify her employed those processes. Clay and computer generated facial reconstruction was utilized to try to identify her, as well as forensic artist sketches, isotope analysis, and even an episode of America's Most Wanted, and the National Missing and Unidentified Persons website.

The America's Most Wanted show did contribute a generous donation, which led to the DNA profile which ultimately produced an identity. A DNA match to a relative in Stark County who had participated in one of the “genetic genealogy” tests occurred. Keri Wyant would be 49 today.

Anyone who remembers anything about Ms. Wyant, and could contribute anything to the identity of friends, or acquaintances in her time in Henry and Knox counties. Please contact Detective Dwayne Roelfs or Lt. Curt Apperson in the Criminal Investigations Division of Champaign County Sheriff's Office, (217) 384-1213.

In an ironic twist of fate, the boy she gave to her friends was killed in a freak bicycle-car accident when he was 7, sometime around the year 2000.