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updated: 10/28/2010 11:45 PM

'Person of interest' to be questioned in NIU homicide

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  • Antinette "Toni" Keller

      Antinette "Toni" Keller

  • Antinette "Toni" Keller

      Antinette "Toni" Keller

 
 

A "person of interest" in the murder of Northern Illinois University student Antinette "Toni" Keller was in police custody out of the state Thursday night but was expected to be extradited to DeKalb today, said DeKalb Police Chief Bill Feithen.

The person of interest was arrested outside Illinois but on local DeKalb charges of unlawful possession of a motor vehicle and obstruction of justice, Feithen said. Police are not releasing information on where the person was arrested, but the vehicle the person had illegally bore Illinois license plates, Feithen confirmed.

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The person will be extradited to DeKalb sometime today, where questioning regarding the murder of Keller will continue, Feithen said.

Keller, an 18-year-old freshman, was reported missing Oct. 14 after going for a walk at a campus-area park. Human remains, which police believe to be those of Keller, were found two days later in a heavily wooded area of that park.

"We are very pleased that potentially the person who did this cannot harm anyone else," said Mary Tarling, Antinette's cousin. "That was one of our fears. We don't want any family to have to go through the mourning that we have gone through."

Tarling, who has been acting as a spokeswoman for the family, said police have not provided the family with any further details than what has been released to the media.

"While it's difficult to not know this information, we understand," Tarling said. "The police are trying to keep the investigation safe."

Police announced the discovery of human remains Oct. 25, a week after they were discovered, because they could not be identified.

Items that were "consistent" with Keller's personal belongings were found near the remains. An out-of-state forensics expert was brought in to confirm the burned remains were human.

Some members of the NIU community have complained about the lack of information provided during the homicide investigation.

Keller, a Neuqua Valley High School graduate and Plainfield native, was an art major and had gone to the park to look for ideas for a project, friends said.

The DeKalb Park District has temporarily closed the park during the investigation, but reopened it on Thursday. Police said bonfires and campfires regularly occur there despite a park district ban on them.

The DeKalb Police Department has received 210 leads to date and continues its investigation, it said.

Police said they are interested in any information about suspicious subjects and activities, especially fires, in Prairie Park between midday Oct. 14 and the morning of Oct. 18. Anyone with information is asked to call the police at (815) 748-8407, (815) 753-8477 or Crime Stoppers at (815) 895-3272.

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