Missing Joliet father found dead in Des Plaines River after extensive search

Following an extensive search, a suburban father of seven is dead after his body was recovered in the Des Plaines River in Joliet

A search party was conducted Friday morning that began at 316 N. Bluff Street for 37-year-old Robert Long, led by his mother, Jewell Robinson. 

At 10:47 a.m., the Joliet Fire Department was utilizing a boat and a drone when they recovered a male's body on the east side of the river, on the south side of the McDonough Street bridge, according to Sgt. Dwayne English, with Joliet PD.

The body was brought to the shore in the 700 block of Railroad Street. Officials say the Will County Coroner's Office responded to the scene a short time after and identified the deceased man as Long. 

"I wish to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Robert Long. It is very difficult to even fathom the amount of loss that they continue to deal with and this pain has been reopened and I hope that all of us in this room can keep that family and the memory of Mr. Long in our thoughts," Sgt. English said Friday afternoon during a press conference.

Long was reported missing on April 13 and he was last seen April 11 wearing a red jacket, blue jeans and sunglasses, police say. 

His mother, Robinson, made an emotional plea to the Joliet City Council on Tuesday night, asking for help in the search for her son. 

"This family chose to speak up for their loved one and I appreciate that. I think that speaks to how close they are," Sgt. English said. "It's unfortunate it has turned out this way."

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Joliet police and fire personnel joined forces in their search efforts for Long. 

The fire department deployed boats on the Des Plaines River every day since Monday of this week in their search. 

Long is not married but leaves behind seven children who range in age from 11 months to 16 years old. 

Authorities say though Long's remains have been recovered, the investigation into how he ended up in the river is still very active. 

"Our detectives are going to continue to completely look at the whole case and right now, that is the big question mark as far as how Mr. Long ended up in the river," Sgt. English said. 

There are currently no signs of foul play, which is what "makes this case so difficult," Sgt. English added. 

A postmortem exam is scheduled for Saturday morning, police say. 

"Why someone would do my son like that. He didn't bother nobody," Robinson said. "… I want the truth to come to the light." 

Anyone with more information or video footage related to the case is urged to contact Joliet PD's Investigation Division at 815-724-3020 or the Will County Crime Stoppers at 800-323-6734. 

The investigation is ongoing and we'll bring more updates as they become available.