Video: Autopsy complete on female remains; identity, cause of death unknown

Staff reports

The cause of death of a badly decomposed body found next to a blue garbage can or similar structure Friday near the Illinois Sanitary and Ship Canal on Chicago's southwest side is still unknown, officials said Saturday afternoon.

A spokesman for the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office said an autopsy has been completed but the cause of death is still under investigation. The spokesman said more information may be available today.

The remains were found near a blue garbage can or similar structure by a Lyons environmental inspector, according to Lyons officials. That detail sparked interest in whether the remains might be those of Stacy Peterson, who has been missing since late October.

State police have named her husband, Drew Peterson, a former Bolingbrook police officer, as a suspect in the disappearance. State police have investigated whether Drew Peterson removed a large blue container from his house shortly before his wife was reported missing.

A spokeswoman for the Chicago Police Department said the remains appeared to be those of a white female with light red or blonde hair.

The inspector from Lyons found the remains Friday afternoon in the 3400 block of Kedzie Avenue. Roy Witherow, the Lyons village manager, said the employee, whose name he declined to release, was searching the site for clean debris to fill a village-owned quarry at Lawndale and Ogden avenues in Lyons.

Witherow said the inspector was walking around the property with an instrument used to check for soil contamination when he saw a foot and a leg. Witherow said a blue plastic structure was found about 25 feet away from the remains and was partially covered in snow. He could not elaborate on what the structure was. A spokeswoman for Chicago police, however, indicated that no blue container was found by that department.

A news release from Lyons police on Friday said a blue garbage can was found near the remains.