The coroner’s office has confirmed the identity of the ‘Lake Michigan Jane Doe’ found near Waukegan as a missing 19-year-old pregnant woman from Chicago. Her death is considered a homicide.
A forensic odontologist with the Lake County Coroner’s Office confirmed the woman is Yarianna G. Wheeler, 19, of Chicago, following a dental records comparison with her teeth.
“Due to the diligence of Lake County and surrounding area residents, sheriff’s detectives received dozens of tips as to the possible identity of ‘Lake Michigan Jane Doe,'” Lake County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Christopher Covelli said on Friday. One of those tips led to Wheeler.
An autopsy showed Wheeler had been stabbed. She had “several sharp force injuries” on her body, Covelli said.
Sheriff’s detectives are investigating the case as a homicide. The official cause of death is pending.
The woman was living in Chicago but is originally from the 3200 block of West Wilcox Street in Bellwood, the sheriff’s office said.
On August 15, a fisherman on Lake Michigan spotted Wheeler’s body floating in the water around 3 p.m. three miles southeast of the Waukegan Harbor.
The woman was six to seven months pregnant. Detectives believe Wheeler was in the water for no more than 7-12 days.
Covelli said the woman could have entered the water anywhere from the northern Indiana shoreline to the northern Illinois shoreline of Lake Michigan.
A sketch of Wheeler was created by Mount Prospect Police Detective Dirk Ollech and released on August 20.
Even though authorities have identified the woman, they are still asking for the public’s help in providing information on the suspect or suspects involved in the woman’s death.
Those with tips are asked to contact the Lake County Sheriff’s Office at 847-377-4000.