Authorities Combine Forces in Search of Missing NIU Student - NBC Chicago

Authorities Combine Forces in Search of Missing NIU Student

DeKalb County Major Case Squad assumes lead in search for Toni Keller



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    The DeKalb County Major Case Squad has assumed the investigation into the disappearance of a missing Northern Illinois University student.

    The squad is a joint effort of officers from NIU, the City of DeKalb, the City of Sycamore, the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the Illinois State Police.

    Earlier in the day, the search for Antinette "Toni" Keller included water and "dive rescue" teams focusing on the streams and large retention ponds in the wooded area known as Prairie Park, which lies just south of the NIU campus.

    Keller, 18, was last seen around noon last Thursday after she told friends she was going for a walk near West Lincoln Highway, which is not far from NIU's campus.

    In his first public comments Wednesday on the search for his missing daughter, Roger Keller said he was trying to remain hopeful for her safe return.

    "You have to have a positive attitude. Think of all the positive scenarios and hope she comes home safely," he said. "We want them to know to keep trying. Just because we don't find her today or tomorrow doesn't mean we won't find her the next day."

    Roger Keller said it is uncharacteristic for his daughter to wander off, and he said that his wife and daughter had just spoken on the phone days before her disappearance and were making plans for her to visit home.

    "She was very excited about coming home," he said. "I would never have thought that Toni would... that this would have occurred. She was too happy. She loved it, the school."

    More than 7,000 Facebook users are connected to "Missing Antinette Keller", which offers a downloadable poster, photos of Toni, and search guidelines.

    A student group, "Huskies United," has organized a card and ribbon campaign to raise awareness.

    "A lot of the students are used to coming together, just because we've been doing it the last two years," said Huskies United President Jillian Thomas.  "We're not trying to be investigators.  We're not trying to do police work.  It's just the organization trying to spread the word."

    The family is grateful.

    "Keep helping us," said Roger Keller. "The outpouring of support has been tremendous. It's been great. It's amazing the number of people that have come forward to help and we appreciate that and we want people to continue to do that until we bring Toni home."

    Northern Illinois University police found her dorm key in the woods on Tuesday. Roger Keller said she lost the same key weeks ago and the police are not considering it to be a strong lead at this time. No other items have appeared in the case. Toni Keller is white, stands 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs approximately 130 pounds.

    She has brown hair and blue eyes, and was last seen wearing blue jeans, gray jacket, and a scarf. She has a small piercing in her right nostril and a tattoo of three sunflowers on the upper portion of her chest.

    She is an art student and may have been carrying a portfolio and professional camera.

    Anyone who might have seen her or might have information on her whereabouts is asked to call NIU Police at 815-753-1212. Missing Antinette Keller
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