DNA confirms body found in field is that of missing man - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

DNA confirms body found in field is that of missing Lake Villa man

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WAUKEGAN, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

DNA test have proven that a body found in a north suburban cornfield last week was that of a man reported missing about two weeks earlier, Pioneer Press is reporting.

The Lake County Major Crime Task Force confirmed the body found late last week in a Vernon Hills cornfield was that of Nick Steward, Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd said Monday.

The 33-year-old Lake Villa man, who formerly lived in Vernon Hills, had been missing since Sept. 20 and his disappearance launched a search joined by hundreds of family and friends.

Although the final cause of death won't be known for about two more weeks, the preliminary cause is apparently self-inflicted wounds from a "sharp instrument," possibly a knife or a razor blade, Rudd said.

The coroner conducted a DNA test last Friday to confirm the body's identity, since it was badly decomposed due to exposure to wildlife.

Steward suffered two cut wounds to his right wrist and a single cut wound to his left wrist, Rudd said, adding he also had a cut to his left upper arm.

The coroner said there also appeared to be a cut to his neck, but it could have been made by prolonged exposure to wildlife.

As has happened since Steward went missing more than two weeks ago, family, friends and former classmates from Libertyville High School showed an outpouring of support and donations.

An administrator of the Facebook Page "Find Nick Steward," which has more than 16,000 followers, is now updating supporters on Steward's wife, Megan Steward, and his 1-year-old son.

"As you can imagine, this has been a difficult time for all of Nick's family and friends," the administrator's post said Saturday. "Some of us are just now looking at all of these comments here on Facebook and are overwhelmed by the support all of you have shown. It brings tears to my eyes to know that so many of you cared to search for a man that many of you had never even met.

"Nick's wife, Megan, is surrounded by family at this time," the post continued. "We are helping her work through what needs to be done, and she has asked me to post this update here to thank all of you for overwhelming support, prayers and generosity. She is struggling to find the right words, but will be posting ... You guys are the most generous group of people and we thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts."

Funeral arrangements are not yet available.

The first clue to finding Steward arrived Thursday, Oct. 3 when, while on another police call, a Vernon Hills police officer noticed his white, 2008 Saturn Aura in the parking lot of an apartment complex on the 900 block of Westmoreland Drive. The officer recognized the car based on missing person information provided by the Lake Villa police department and Steward's family and friends.

The vehicle was found in good condition, and a Lake County State's Attorney's Office spokeswoman said its appearance did not indicate foul play.

Meanwhile, police launched a search of the grounds and a cornfield to the south of the apartment complex until they discovered Steward's body at about 10:30 p.m.

Steward was last seen Sept. 20 as he left his job at MC Machinery Systems Inc. in Wood Dale, where he worked as a mechanic, and he was driving the Saturn Aura. His wife reported him missing after he didn't return home from work.

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