COLUMBIA — The Major Case Squad was called Thursday afternoon to Columbia to investigate the suspected homicide of a 17-year-old girl whose body was discovered in a house where a registered sex offender was living.
The victim was identified as Erin Schneider of Columbia.
Detectives have declined to state the manner of Schneider's death. An autopsy on the girl's body is scheduled for Friday, according to Thomas Coppotelli, the major case squad deputy commander.
Joseph Edwards, the Columbia Police chief, announced during a news conference the discovery of the body occurred after Columbia Police received a missing person report.
Evidence led police to 237 S. Riebeling St. in Columbia, where they found a body inside, Edwards said.
"We do believe this is a murder, a homicide investigation," Edwards said. "We felt it was in everyone's best interest to activate the Major Case Squad."
According to the Illinois Sex Offender Information website, a child sex offender was registered at 237 S. Riebeling St.
The sex offender was convicted of criminal sexual abuse of a 14-year-old victim in Monroe County. The suspect was 19 at the time of the offense.
Twenty-five officers from area police departments are investigating the homicide, Edwards said.
Police are investigating another crime scene but declined to identify that site.
"This investigation is very fluid at this time," Coppotelli said.
Police declined to say if anyone has been questioned.
No one has been arrested in connection with the killing.
By early evening Thursday, a row of police vehicles had blocked off Riebeling Street in front of the modest, one-story house where the body was discovered.
Yellow crime scene tape stretched around the house, where forensic technicians carefully removed bags of evidence.
Residents of Riebeling street said they knew little about the person or people who lived at 237 Riebeling. The neighbors agreed, however, that the house was a hotbed of activity, with cars stopping there at all hours of the day and night.
Columbia Police responded with frequent patrols in the neighborhood, said Leonard DeFabio, who lives several doors down from the crime scene.
"There were just a lot of transient people," DeFabio said.
Denise Kemp, another neighbor, said she could never be sure who was living at the house.
"Sometimes there was a woman who lived there," Kemp said. "It was a couple guys, then two young kids lived there, they were like high school kids. There was a lot of stuff going on at that house."
Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2533.