Chicago pastor missing for six days leaves family pushing for help

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

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Prayers and community members filled the New Israelite Missionary Baptist Church in Auburn Gresham Monday morning, with Rev. Warren Beard having been missing for nearly a week.

Beard is a Pastor Assistant and Sunday school teacher at the church, but hasn't been seen since July 2, according to officials and congregants.

"Reverend Beard is a very important person to us," said Pastor Chenier Alston, who has worked with Beard for 18 years at the Church.

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. Six days later they're left with the heartache of unanswered questions.

"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."

Family members say police told them his vehicle, which is also missing, was last spotted on a license plate reader camera in Joliet around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night near Jefferson Street and Larkin Avenue.

His vehicle is a 2023 Black Honda HRV Sport with an Illinois license plate #DY20511.

Family says they want more information and updates from police, and want to know if there has been any activity on Beard's cell phone, vehicle or credit and debit cards.

NBC 5 News asked Chicago Police those exact questions, and received a response one minute later stating, "No update is available."

Joliet PD referred NBC Chicago to CPD for those questions, but say they are continuing to assist in the search as he was last seen in their city.

"It's a devastating blow... I can’t take it," said Beard's oldest son Shane Beard. "My family, we just want answers.”

Beard's wife, Yowanda Beals encourages anyone in the Chicago or Joliet communities to call police with any small detail that could help.

"Everyone on this stage loves Warren, we just want to bring him home," she said. "That’s our main objective right now.”

Family plans to host search parties and prayer vigils in the coming week.

Police say Beard is 53 years old, 6 feet tall and about 200 lbs. He has tattoos on both arms and back. Any information can be reported by dialing 9-1-1 or calling Area 2 SVU at 312-747-8274.

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