DuPage County

Remains Discovered at Lemont Forest Preserve Where Missing United Executive's SUV Found in 2020

Following Cefolia's disappearance, a search team with bloodhounds was put together using his pullover and a pair of glasses as scent for the dogs to search the woods.

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Police are investigating to determine whether human remains found at a Lemont forest preserve Friday are that of a United Airlines executive who was reported missing last year, according to authorities.

DuPage County Forest Preserve Police said they were notified late Friday morning by a contractor at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve that potential human remains had been discovered in the 700-acre site.

The contractors were removing invasive species in the area when they came across "human remains hanging from a low hanging tree," said Chief David Pederson with the Forest Preserve District Police.

New information is slowly emerging in the disappearance of a United executive, but plenty of mystery remains. NBC 5 Investigates' Rob Stafford has more.

"The human remains were located in a very thick covered brush area, extremely, so you can be 10 feet away and not see it," Pederson told NBC 5. "Obviously the foliage is starting to drop this time of year, these contractors were working in a very thick area..."

The forest preserve was the same location where missing United Airlines executive Jake Cefolia's SUV was found after he was reported missing in August 2020.

An avid runner, Cefolia, 49, used to run and hike the trails at the sprawling forest. His Range Rover Sport was discovered parked in the early morning hours of Aug. 8 outside the forest preserve, according to authorities.

Police reports previously said that a face mask was hanging from the steering wheel, a grey pullover was left in the back seat and a golf bag with a set of clubs and $120 in cash were found in the trunk. 

More than two months after a United executive went missing, authorities clearly know more than they are sharing. NBC 5's Rob Stafford reports on the search for Jake Cefolia.

A search team with bloodhounds was put together using Cefolia’s pullover and a pair of glasses as scent for the dogs to search the woods. The bloodhounds tracked the scent southeast from where the SUV was parked but lost the scent 20 yards in and stopped, according to police reports.

According to DuPage County Forest Preserve Police, the Elmhurst Police Department was notified of Friday's discovery as a missing persons report for Cefolia was filed with the agency.

Pederson, the police chief, said the remains are starting to decompose "to the point that you can't tell who the individual is," adding it's uncertain when the body will be identified.

Evidence technicians, investigators with Elmhurst police and the DuPage County Coroner's Office were among those who were assisting in processing the scene.

The investigation is being led by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County Law Enforcement Department.

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