Illinois State Police investigate after a body was found in the Des Plaines River near the Stevenson Expressway in Channahon

Illinois State Police investigate after a body was found in the Des Plaines River near the Stevenson Expressway in Channahon (Chicago Tribune image)

(WGN-AM) - Investigators were working to identify the badly decomposed body of a woman found by the Des Plaines River near Channahon.

Meanwhile, as investigators worked at the Big Basin Marina, where the body was discovered, the families of two missing suburban women were waiting for word on whether the discovery might yield some resolution in their relatives' disappearances.

Investigators pulled up to the marina in an aluminum boat. Wearing latex gloves, they loaded a gray canvas bag into a blue Will County van.

"We've been called," said Pam Bosco, a spokeswoman for the family of Stacy Peterson, who disappeared from Bolingbrook in October 2007. "We're in contact by phone. We're just waiting to hear more information. For confirmation though, they said it's going to be a little bit of time. Obviously we're anticipating that it could be anyone -- you know, Lisa Stebic is missing too -- but we just want an answer of who this woman is."

Stebic's family also was aware of the discovery and was waiting for word from Illinois State Police officials, who are conducting the investigation.

"We haven't heard anything from Illinois State Police -- yet," said Melanie Greenberg, a spokeswoman for Stebic's family. "But it could be anybody; there are several missing women. But the location is just south, not very far away. [If it is her], the overwhelming feeling would be relief that we found her and that there is resolution. And we'd finally be able to put her to rest."

A plastic blue barrel was spotted in the vicinity of the body. Channahon resident Michele Williams told WGN Radio host John Williams this morning that she and her husband saw the barrel in heavy brush on the riverbank on Sunday and then again on Tuesday. She said they reported their discovery to police.

The significance of a blue barrel is that Drew Peterson's stepbrother, Thomas Morphey, has said that he helped Peterson remove a blue container from Peterson's home on the day that Stacy disappeared, and that he believed Stacy's body was inside it.

According to Roy Taylor, who has been leading the water searches for Peterson's body in the area, a crew cleaning up the river found the body on the shore sometime this afternoon.

The manager of nearby Mugzy's Bar said the body was discovered by the Living Lands and Waters clean-up crew, which the bar had hired to clean part of the river.

"We saw the trooper flying into the parking lot, and the Living Lands and Waters boat was coming down the river and the trooper jumped in their boat," said Ben, who asked that his last name not be used.

Ben said the crew, which is based out of Moline, came about four days ago and he briefed them that searchers had been sifting through the waters, apparently looking for Stacy Peterson's body.

"I told them that we had a flood last September, it was the worst flood ever, it was knee-deep in the parking lot. I told them if you're going to find anything, it's probably going to be onshore, because of the flood," he said. "They'd be a big help and get some closure to this case if they came across something. I knew it was a long shot."

The body was not in the water, but was found in the brush on the shore, according to a state police source. Other bodies had been found in the area in the past, the source said, including the remains of the Vaughn family, which were found in a car on a frontage road near the Stevenson in Channahon Township in 2007.

Stebic was last seen in Plainfield in April 2007. Plainfield police investigators are in contact with state police investigators, said public information officer Jim Caliendo.

"We're just letting them do their thing -- at this point we're not sure if it's even connected with our case or not," he said. "If we do get that information, we'll send an investigator out."

"I found out through a friend. We're just hopeful, I'm so hopeful and I'm ecstatic," said Stacy Peterson's aunt, Candace Aikin, who lives near Los Angeles. "I'm hoping that it is Stacy. Our family really wants closure. Then we'll at least know what happened. We have so many unanswered questions and no closure is really hard.

(The Chicago Tribune contributed to this report)

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