TAMMS, Ill. (KFVS) - The search for a missing man from Alexander County, Illinois is now a homicide investigation after police say his body was found miles south on the Mississippi River in Tennessee.
According to Lake County Sheriff Bryan Avery, the body was recovered over the weekend and sent to Memphis, Tenn. for an autopsy and identification.
Illinois State Police said the body of 59-year-old Larry McNelly was found in the river in Tennessee.
The search for McNelly began on September 10, when he disappeared following a house fire at his home on McDaniel School Road in Tamms, Ill.
Debbie Goins, McNelly’s sister, said to have police find McNelly this way is a devastating result to his friends and family who feared the worst but hung on to hope that he was still alive.
“If somebody knows something, and they haven’t told it yet, please come forward,” said Debbie Goins, McNelly’s sister. “He’s got parents that are devastated, children, grandchildren, myself - his sibling, many friends. Please come forward.”
McNelly’s first cousin, Geno Baugher said he was well-known in the community and he still can not believe he’s gone.
“It hasn’t even sunk in yet. I’ve been denying the fact that it’s happened. There is a lot of people that will miss him a lot," Baugher said. "I didn’t have a big brother and he was always the one I was hanging out with when I was a little kid. He took me hunting and fishing and you know he was just a good guy.”
Now that police are looking at this as a homicide those who knew McNelly are even more passionate about getting answers.
“I knew that he wouldn’t just take off and say nothing to nobody. He always called his mom everyday. It just ain’t like Larry to do something like that. I knew something was wrong,” Baugher said. “Now that he has been found we want to know why and how and who did it.”
According to Illinois State Police District 22, they are investigating with the State Fire Marshal’s office.
State police blocked off the scene on Thursday, Sept. 12 for the investigation.
Heartland News spoke to the McNelly family off-camera and they saw the home up close. Family members said the house was leveled except for the chimney
Police used K-9 units to search the debris.
McNelly worked for the Alexander County Highway Department and his family said he was known for cracking jokes and was always willing to help his neighbors.
This is an ongoing investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Illinois State Police Zone 7 investigations at 618-542-2171 or call 911.