DNA Confirms Body is Missing NIU Student

Toni Keller vanished Oct. 14 after telling friends she was going to a park

Thursday, Jan 6, 2011  |  Updated 11:00 PM CDT
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Human remains found last October in a DeKalb County park have finally been confirmed as those of missing Northern Illinois University student Antinette "Toni" Keller.

DNA tests on a bone fragment discovered in Prairie Park in DeKalb confirmed the badly burned remains were those of the 18-year-old freshman from Plainfield, prosecutor William Engerman said at a court hearing Thursday for William "Billy" Curl, who’s charged with murder in the killing.

Keller vanished on Oct. 14 after telling friends she planned to visit the park, not far from the NIU campus.

Burned human remains were found two days later in the park near some of Keller’s personal belongings, but the remains were too badly damaged to positively identify, authorities said.

DNA samples taken from Keller’s parents, though, were compared with a fragment of femur bone found in the park to confirm the remains as Keller’s, prosecutors said Thursday

"The DNA results we have thus far indicate the remains uncovered in this case are those of Antinette Keller," DeKalb County State’s Attorney Clay Campbell said.

Officials announced the findings at a hearing for Curl, the 34-year-old DeKalb man charged with sexually assaulting and killing Keller. He was arrested in Louisiana nearly two weeks after Keller vanished.

Authorities say Curl happened on the teen in the park, raped and killed her, then set her body afire and fled for a time to Mexico before returning to the United States.

Curl is being held on $5 million bond.

His attorney said after the hearing that she had expected the remains would be those of Keller.

"Given the situation, I didn’t think it was going to be anybody else," said Public Defender Regina Harris.

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