As a student at West Chicago Community High School, Miguel Quinones was honored by teachers and classmates for bringing his peers together and fostering a sense of community.
A relative on Wednesday remembered Quinones that way, too. He was a charismatic
young man, but a jokester who also enjoyed a good debate.
But now family members and friends are baffled by his death Tuesday. Quinones' body was found by a passer-by on the eastern edge of the West Chicago Middle School property about 11:27 a.m., police said.
Preliminary autopsy results were inconclusive on the 22-year-old West Chicago man, pending toxicology results. There were no immediate signs of foul play, police said.
Quinones had been visiting his uncle and cousins Monday night in West Chicago before walking home a few blocks away on a noticeably cold evening, said a female cousin who asked to be identified only as Nena, Quinones' nickname for her. The middle school was along his route.
His family at his nearby home assumed he stayed the night at his uncle's house and were stunned by the news of his death.
"I want answers," said Nena, 19.
She recalled Quinones as a family-oriented "jokester" who taught her young nieces how to walk.
"We grew up together," she said. "He was like a big brother."
Quinones, she said, excelled at math and social studies classes at West Chicago Community High School. He had been working at a construction job, but had hopes of working with underprivileged children.
He also enjoyed a friendly argument.
"He loved to debate," she added. "He loved to prove his point."
In 2007, he also won the "Peacebuilder of the Month" award, a recognition designed to honor students who build community at the high school, said his former social studies teacher John Chisholm.
West Chicago Community High School District 94 invite award winners to a school board meeting where state Sen. Randy Hultgren presents each with a certificate.
Chisholm described Quinones as an outgoing student who presented effective arguments in class.
"He wanted people to all get on board," he said.
West Chicago Elementary School District 33 officials said they do not believe any students saw the body and kept them clear of the area along Bishop Street. Anyone with information is asked to call police at (630) 293-2222.