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Coroner releases new details on bones recovered from Pecatonica River

Coroner releases new details on bones recovered from Pecatonica River

(WIFR) – Nearly four months after skeletal remains were found in the Pecatonica River, the Winnebago County coroner says investigators have more information about the case.

In mid-March, divers pulled a metallic brown 1966 Chevrolet Impala from the Pecatonica River near E. First and Washington Streets. During the recovery, divers also found more than 100 bones belonging to at least two people. The bones were sent to a forensic anthropologist for further testing.

Winnebago County Coroner Jennifer Muraski said forensic anthropologists who analyzed the bones determined the remains belonged to two adult males and that none of the bones found showed signs of trauma.

Investigators believe the recovered vehicle is connected to the disappearance of two Freeport-area men, Clarence Owens and Everett Hawley, nearly 50 years ago. Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office cold case databaseHawley and Owens were last seen on February 19, 1976.

The identity of the bones and how the men died are still being investigated, and Muraksi said it will take more time.

Fishermen spotted the vehicle with sonar equipment and alerted authorities in mid-March, according to the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office. Several hours later, the vehicle was pulled from the water by divers and a crane.

The sheriff’s office says the investigation is ongoing and is asking the public to come forward with any information. A tip line has been set up at 815-319-6400.