A set of human remains found in the woods near Northern Illinois University's DeKalb campus were burned so badly they can't be examined.
"An autopsy is not viable at this point," DeKalb Police chief Bill Feithen announced Tuesday in updating their search for missing student Antinette "Toni" Keller.
Police found the remains near some of Keller's personal items early in their investigation on Saturday October 16th. But it wasn't clear that the remains were human until an out-of-state team came in and looked.
What was labeled a death investigation late last week has become a full blown homicide investigation.
"We've interviewed more than 50 people," he said. "Some more than once."
But the department is still reticent to divulge what they know in the weeks old case that has touched off fear and loathing in the area.
"To do so would compromise our efforts," Feithen said. Police will continue to search for more clues, and Feithen recommended that the public avoid an area known as Prairie Park.
The remains were found in a secluded area where dozens of campfires and bonfires are routinely built.
"It's not unusual to smell smoke there," the chief said.
DeKalb County State's Attorney John Farrell, whose office is joining the investigation, said he understands the public's desire for more information.
Saturday, police reclassified Keller's case as a death investigation. At the same time, the department also revealed the discovery of human remains found in Prairie Park in DeKalb. The announcement came one day after police notified Keller's family, according to the Daily Chronicle.
Keller disappeared Thursday, October 14, when she left her NIU residence hall to work on some art in nearby woods. During the investigation into her disappearance, police found items believed to be consistent to what Keller was carrying when she left.
Students at NIU remain on edge about the lack of information in the case, but officials are working to temper their anxiety.
"We are a community that has been tested before," said Kathy Buettner, NIU Vice President of University Relations. "The news we received today is devastating. In situations like this speculation runs rampant. The university has not, has not withheld information. Contrary to some reports the campus is not on lockdown"
Toni Keller is a 2010 graduate of Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville.