Body of missing Chicago pastor recovered from vehicle in Des Plaines River

Reverend Warren Beard of New Israelite Missionary Baptist Church went missing July 2, last seen in Joliet, IL

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The body of a missing Chicago pastor who was last seen last week has been recovered from the Des Plaines River in Rockdale along with his vehicle, according to the Will County Coroner.

Reverend Warren Beard of New Israelite Missionary Baptist Church was last seen on July 2 in Joliet, when his vehicle was spotted on a license plate reader camera at around 10:30 p.m. near the intersection of Jefferson Street and Larkin Avenue.

Fire officials confirmed a vehicle was located in the Des Plaines River just after 2:45 p.m. Tuesday, nearly four hours after authorities were notified of video footage that showed a vehicle entering the river Tuesday evening.

Though authorities did not initially confirm the identity of the body found, Beard's family told NBC Chicago that the remains recovered inside the vehicle were that of Warren Beard. The Will County Coroner later confirmed the remains belonged to Beard.

Beard, who was a pastor assistant and Sunday school teacher at the church, was 53 years old.

"He was the greatest person. One of the greatest men I've met in my life," pastor Chenier Alston said. Alston has worked with Beard for 18 years at the church.

Police said at a press conference Tuesday evening that a fisherman near where Beard's vehicle entered the water heard a loud noise, but did not see anything upon walking closer to where the noise was heard.

On Monday, community members filled the Auburn Gresham church, gathering for prayers.

"Reverend Beard is a very important person to us," Alston said.

Alston called Beard Tuesday night around 8:30 p.m.

"He was jovial, he was happy, he was joking as usual. And the phone call ended with, as we always end it, 'I love you,'" Alston said.

That was the last time he, or anyone in Beard's family heard from him.

"We are all hurting right now," Beard's Aunt Theresa Boss-French said. "We all know Reverend Warren Beard is not someone who would just disappear without saying a word to his family.”

His family says the father of five would visit Joliet frequently because he had friends in the area. But he didn't return home Tuesday night, and didn't arrive to work with the Preservation of Affordable Housing Wednesday morning.

"This is not like him," Alston said. "He would not abandon his family and not come home."

According to police, there was no indication of foul play in the investigation.

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