The Will County Sheriff’s Office has announced that a body discovered last May that launched a year long investigation has finally come to a conclusion after the body was officially identified. It was on May 28th, 2019 that a deceased body was found in inside of a shed in Unincorporated Washington Township near Beecher. An investigation ensued in an attempt to identify the badly decomposed body. It was determined early in the investigation that the unidentified person died of exposure and no foul play was suspected.
The Will County Coroner’s Office enlisted the assistance of Forensic Anthropologist Professor Cris Hughes from the University of Illinois. Professor Hughes provided analysis that indicated the deceased was a male, had Native American features and numerous healed fractures. In order to recreate facial features that might be utilized to identify the body, the Coroner’s office enlisted the help of Community Service Officer Beth Buchholtz, Department of Public Safety, Longmont County. Beth is a trained facial/cranial reconstructionist. Working with the skull she was able to develop an image of what the person may have looked like.
Flyers in both English and Spanish were then circulated around the area farms, ranches, and local businesses as it was believed by investigators that the individual may have been a rodeo worker given their injuries as well as the location of the body.
The Coroner’s Office was soon contacted by an individual who lived in Bradley, Illinois. This individual claimed the unidentified body may be his cousin, Reynaldo Balleza-Banda. Balleza-Banda had been missing since February of 2019. The Will County Coroners Office then located and contacted Reynaldo’s immediate family residing in Mexico. They indicated they had not heard from Reynaldo since late January.
Detectives with the Will County Sheriff’s Office traveled to Bradley, Illinois and obtained a DNA sample from Reynaldo’s cousin. The DNA was subsequently sent to the Northeastern Illinois Regional Crime Lab for comparison. It was on May 18th of 2020 the investigators were contacted and told the DNA swab from the cousin was indeed related to the deceased individual. It was determined that the person found almost a year earlier is that of Reynaldo Balleza-Banda.
The official cause of death has been listed at undetermined.