Search for Missing Person Leads to New Mystery

Thermal imaging camera spots something sitting in a tree

Authorities using a thermal imaging camera in a missing person case last month ultimately solved that case but stumbled upon something else that still has officials stumped: a large object sitting in a tree in the depths of a forest preserve near Bloomingdale.

"We're confident that there's something out there," said police chief Frank Giammarese. "Speaking to the helicopter personnel, they were confident it was some type of large cat."

About five months earlier, Giammarese said an area resident from South Africa who has experience on safari reported seeing a large cat in a marshy area.

"She's confident she has seen other animals like that in her past experience," he said.

So what could have been in the tree? Potential answers range from the exotic to the reasonable. Scott Meister with the DuPage County Forest Preserve said there are several possibilities, such as a bobcat, a raccoon or a possum.

If it was a big cat, it likely passed through already because the forest preserve is too small.

"We look for other signs that you would typically find, including tracks, scat, scratches or even animal carcasses that have been hidden, and so far we have not seen any of those signs," said Meister.

Additionally, he said that if a big cat were there, it's more likely to run away from people than attack them.

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