Identity Released for Murdered Pregnant Woman Found Dead in Lake Michigan August 15, 2021

HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION

The Lake Michigan “Jane Doe” discovered Sunday, August 15, 2021 was identified on Friday, August 27, 2021, when a Lake County Coroner’s Office Forensic Odontologist compared the dental records collected by Lake County sheriff’s detectives to ‘Lake Michigan Jane Doe’s’ teeth and jaw. Following the examination, the Lake County Coroner’s Office confirmed ‘Lake Michigan Jane Doe’s’ identity is Yarianna G. Wheeler, 19, who was living in Chicago but originally is from the 3200 block of West Wilcox Street, Bellwood.

Lake County Sheriff’s detectives continue investigating Wheeler’s death as a homicide and anyone with any information is encouraged to call Lake County Sheriff’s Detectives at 847-377-4148.

Facial composite sketch of woman's body found in Lake Michigan (CREDIT: Dirk Ollech, Mount Prospect Police Department)
Facial composite sketch of woman’s body found in Lake Michigan (CREDIT: Dirk Ollech, Mount Prospect Police Department).

Due to the diligence of Lake County and surrounding area residents, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday, August 27, 2021 that sheriff’s detectives received dozens of tips as to the possible identity of ‘Lake Michigan Jane Doe’ and one of those tips led to a missing 19-year-old woman who was residing in Chicago. Lake County Sheriff’s detectives obtained the dental records for the 19-year-old female and the Lake County Coroner’s Office was working to confirm the identity Thursday and Friday.




Homicide

Sheriff’s detectives are investigating this incident as a homicide. The autopsy of ‘Lake Michigan Jane Doe’ revealed she had several sharp force injuries on her body. The official cause of death is pending.

Detectives feel confident the missing 19-year-old Chicago woman is ‘Lake Michigan Jane Doe,’ however, public identification is being withheld pending official confirmation.

If citizens have any information about the victim or the incident leading to her disappearance and death, they are urged to contact Lake County Sheriff’s Detectives — contact Lake County Sheriff’s Detective Lana LeMons at 847-377-4148 or call Lake County Sheriff’s Detectives at 847-377-4000.




Lake County Sheriff’s Detectives had been seeking the community’s assistance in helping to identify the missing woman, “Lake Michigan Jane Doe,” pulled from Lake Michigan on August 15, 2021.

The woman was six to seven months pregnant. She was approximately 5 feet 4 inches and between 150-170 pounds. She had brown eyes and black har, likely pulled back into a bun. Her fingernails and toenails were manicured and painted white. She was wearing a pink colored summer dress.

It’s believed she was in the water for no more than seven to 12 days when recovered on August 15th, and she possibly entered the water anywhere from the northern Indiana shoreline to the northern Illinois shoreline of Lake Michigan.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office thanked sketch artist Dirk Ollech of the Mount Prospect Police Department for the rendition of the recovered woman.

The body of the man recovered around the same time was positively identified as Martin Mendoza, 49, of Waukesha, Wisconsin, who drowned near the 63rd Street Harbor in Chicago on August 8, 2021.

Detectives are confident there is no relation between the bodies of Mendoza and “Lake Michigan Jane Doe.”




The Lake County Sheriff’s Office initially was investigating two adult bodies recovered from Lake Michigan on Sunday, August 15.

The body of the adult woman was recovered by the United States Coast Guard just after 3:00 p.m., Sunday, August 15, 2021 after a fisherman witnessed a body floating in the water approximately three miles southeast of the Waukegan Harbor.

A short time later, at approximately 4:30 p.m., a United States Coast Guard helicopter was conducting a training exercise approximately three miles east of the Lake Forest shoreline, when the crew spotted the body of an adult man floating in the water. The Coast Guard subsequently recovered the body.




The Lake County Sheriff’s Office initially stated that it appeared the woman is between the ages of 18-40. She was further described as African American, approximately 5 feet, 4 inches, and 150-170 pounds. Her fingernails and toenails were painted. She was wearing a summer dress. Based on preliminary information, it appears she was in the water for no more than two weeks. Sheriff’s detectives are still working to identify her.

Lake County Sheriff’s detectives were immediately working with Chicago Police Department to determine if the man was an individual who went missing in Lake Michigan on August 8, 2021. The man is Hispanic, approximately 5 feet 6 inches and 180 pounds. The man was later identified.

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