Missing pastor’s remains found in river

ROCKDALE, IL – Authorities have confirmed that the vehicle pulled from the Des Plaines River in Rockdale contained the body of 53-year-old Warren Beard, a missing Chicago pastor last seen in Joliet. The Will County coroner made the identification after the car was discovered submerged on Tuesday.

Beard, an assistant pastor and Sunday school teacher at New Israelite Missionary Baptist Church was a respected figure in his community and a married father of five. His disappearance prompted an extensive search after his vehicle triggered a license plate reader near a closed section of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam.

According to Rockdale Fire Protection District Chief David Brady, the vehicle was found in about 8 feet of water. Security footage from the area showed Beard’s vehicle bypassing a barrier and driving under a raised drawbridge into the river.

Rescue operations were hampered by poor visibility in the murky water, complicating the recovery efforts.

Illinois State Police and Chicago police have taken charge of the ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding Beard’s death. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday, but it may take weeks before the exact cause of death is ascertained.

The community has expressed profound grief over the tragic news, remembering Beard as a pillar of strength and kindness. Rockdale authorities expect to provide further updates as the investigation progresses.