Remains found in Will County landfill positively identified as missing Aurora woman

DNA testing has identified remains found in a Will County landfill more than 25 years ago as those of an Aurora woman.

Marie R. O’Brien was identified after a new examination of the remains was launched by the Will County coroner’s and sheriff’s offices. A cause of death remains unknown.

The identification was confirmed by tests on O’Brien’s half-brother, who told investigators he last saw O’Brien in 1984, according to the coroner’s office.

The remains were discovered on May 13, 1997 by an archeologist from the University of Illinois who was working a construction landfill in Rockdale, southwest of Joliet, according to the coroner’s office. He located a bone and sheriff’s deputies discovered other skeletal remains among brick and other debris.


The material had come from a building in Joliet that had once housed the Rust Craft company, a block long and three stories tall with a basement, the coroner’s office said. It was abandoned in 1986 and was destroyed by fire in 1992.

Some of the debris was used to fill the basement, but in 1995 that material – mostly wood, stone and brick — was excavated and brought to Rockdale, the coroner’s office said.

In 2009, the coroner’s office formed a cold case unit that began to examine the remains but several leads led to no identification, the office said. Then in the summer of 2021, the office contracted with a Texas laboratory that developed a DNA profile "sufficient to submit to Family Tree. As a result, their genealogists narrowed down family leads to a few people."

The subsequent search led to a man in California, and further testing determined that the remains belonged to his half-sister, the office said.