NIU Police finished with area search for missing student

By John Bachmann, Alex Fiore, and David Matz

UPDATE 2:24 p.m.:

Local officals and members of the community began meeting today at 2 p.m. in the Stevenson Hall Multi-Purpose Room to discuss public options for those who want to assist in the search for missing NIU student Antinette “Toni” Keller.

“We searched every possible location looking for her,” said NIU Police Chief Donald Grady. The search for Keller began at 9 p.m. Friday, Grady said.

Brian Hemphill, vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, said having more people aware will help the search.

Keep checking for more updates as they become available.


UPDATE 1:20 p.m.: NIU Police Sgt. Alan Smith said police have ended their physical search of missing student Antinette “Toni” Keller.

“We’ve concluded our search by the woods after looking this weekend and Monday,” Smith said. “We searched all around the Prairie Woods and down Fairview Drive near the I-88 Tollway.”

Smith said the investigation is still ongoing.

“We’re still investigating and following up with family and friends,” Smith said. “We also welcome any information on her from anyone who can help.”

NIU President John Peters released a statement earlier today regarding missing student Antinette Keller.

Peters said he spoke with Keller’s father and pledged to him that NIU’s full resources are being used to assist in finding her.

Peters said several law agencies under direction of the NIU Police Department, have been searching for Keller by doing grid-based searches in the surround area of campus.

A meeting will take place this afternoon at 2 p.m. in the Stevenson Hall Multi-Purpose Room to discuss options for members of the community who want to assist in the search for Keller, the statement said.


Earlier Story:

Student Affairs and Enrollment Management will host an informational meeting for students, faculty and residents interested in helping in the search for missing freshman art major Antinette “Toni” Keller Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Stevenson Towers multipurpose room.

Community members who would like to attend this meeting should feel free to park in Lot P and PS just west of Stevenson. NIU parking regulations will not be enforced in these lots between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. today, said President John Peters in an address to the NIU community

NIU Police and other local law enforcement agencies have extended their search to the area near the DeKalb Elks Lodge, 209 S. Annie Glidden Road. Keller has been missing since Thursday.

Various police departments are stationed at the command center at the Elks parking lot.

NIU Police, along with DeKalb Police, DeKalb County Sheriffs and Sycamore Police, have been looking for Keller in a very precise manner.

“We’re conducting a grid-by-grid search of the area,” said NIU Police Sgt. Alan Smith.

Smith said they have already checked the campus area including academic buildings and residence halls. Now the search has moved off campus near the Elks Lodge where some of her friends told police she said she was going.

“We have lots of people out searching on the train tracks and have brought K9 units out to the area,” Smith said.

Smith said her cell phone was last used around 1 a.m. Thursday, before she was considered a missing person. He added that police are currently checking her cell phone every hour for activity.

Smith said they are doing everything they possibly can to find Keller.

“We’re following up on every lead that we get,” Smith said.

Brad Hoey, team leader of NIU media relations and internal communications, said the university has utilized the Internet in several ways to facilitate the search.

“We’ve put information regarding [Keller] on the NIU Today blog and on our emergency advisory page,” Hoey said.

Hoey said they’ve also used the NIU page on Facebook to relay information.

Keller, 18, of Plainfield, was reported missing by her close friends after they hadn’t heard from her since noon Thursday. She was supposed to meet up with a friend later that day and she never called him, said Ashley Debartolo, a freshman who is a close friend of Keller.

“She left around noon for what she called ‘an art adventure,'” said Andy Buchanan, a freshman and friend of Keller.

He said she was going to a wooded area behind the Junction Center complex to get ideas for her art projects.

One friend has already gone into the area a couple of times to look for her but hasn’t found anything, Buchanan said.

“We have a really close-knit group of friends,” said Angelina Diana, a freshman art major and friend of Keller. “Nothing foreshadowed this, she seemed really fine.”

Her friends have described Keller as a nice person who got along with everyone and was interested in her painting classes.

Joan Knable, Keller’s grandmother, said that Keller was supposed to return home to Plainfield Friday afternoon for the weekend. Keller planned on calling her mother Friday afternoon after class, Knable said, but she never did. Later that afternoon, the university contacted Keller’s parents. The university has been in contact with the family since Keller disappeared, Knable said.

Keller’s parents and brother traveled to DeKalb over the weekend to hand out fliers, Knable said.

“We love her very much,” Knable said. “We want her back.”

Knable also said that neither of Keller’s parents is choosing to speak with media at this time.

Managing editor Matt Liparota contributed to this report.