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From the beginning, foul play was suspected in Tyesha Bell's disappearance

By Harriet Sokmensuer
March 18, 2021 12:53 PM
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Tyesha Bell
Credit: Aurora Police Department

A young mother who disappeared from her Chicago home after receiving a mysterious phone call nearly 18 years ago has been found dead.

On the evening of May 10, 2003, Tyesha Bell walked out of her Aurora apartment and was never seen or heard from again, according to an Aurora police press release.

Her sister, with whom she lived, had told police that the 22-year-old had received a mysterious phone call moments before stepping out of the home. Investigators believe Bell intended to return home, noting she had left her two daughters behind with the television on, and had also left her purse and candles lit in her bedroom.

From the beginning, foul play was suspected, but no one has ever been charged.

On Tuesday, Aurora and Kane County officials announced at a press conference that the search for Bell was over. In December, Bell's skeletal remains, clothes and personal items were found in a shallow grave in a wooded area of Kane County. Using dental records and DNA, investigators were able to identify the remains as belonging to Bell.

It remains unclear how she died but her disappearance has now become a homicide investigation.

"Our detectives continue to have working theories in Tyesha's case, but we need more information before criminal charges can be authorized, and that's where the public comes in," Aurora Police Department's Bureau of Investigative Services Commander Jack Fichtel said. "We implore anyone who may have information to please come forward."

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Bell's family attended Tuesday's press conference and declined to release a statement to the media. In 2003, her mother, Lorna Smith, told the Chicago Tribune, "Until I get a knock at my door and police tell me they have found my daughter's remains, I will continue to think of her as alive."

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Aurora police's dedicated tip line for Bell's case at 630-256-5517 or email tips@aurora.il.us. Tips can also be left anonymously by calling Aurora Area Crime Stoppers at 630-892-1000.