Woman found dead in Midlothian forest preserve was strangled: autopsy

The community hopes the killer is tracked down after a woman missing from a Midlothian forest preserve was found strangled and partially burned.

Officials say 22-year-old Harvey woman Vanessa Ceja-Ramirez was strangled before her body was found earlier this week.

Ceja-Ramirez’s body was found Wednesday afternoon at the Midlothian Meadows forest preserve, 15300 S. Crawford Ave., two days after she went missing, authorities have said.

Autopsy results released Thursday revealed Vanessa Ceja-Ramirez died of asphyxiation due to a ligature strangulation, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Resident Kelly Rapp was at the forest preserve Wednesday with a search team hoping to find Ceja-Ramirez.

"It was weighing on me the night that I heard about it," said Rapp.

Authorities say Ceja-Ramirez was with her mother and a friend at the forest preserve the day she went missing. They said she was tired and would meet them at the car.


The family called police when some of her clothes were found, but there were no signs of the missing woman.

After she was missing, her phone pinged in the 147th block of Central Avenue at an apartment complex in Oak Forest, three miles away.

A 30-person volunteer search team from the area went looking through the brush and uncovered Ceja-Ramirez's remains, while her family was on scene.

"She was beaten, partially burned and someone intercepted her, and possibly pulled her into a wooded area and basically tortured her," said community activist, Andrew Holmes.

Fliers were passed out in the area hoping someone will come forward. There is a $2,000 reward.

If you know anything about this killing, call the Cook County Sheriff's Office.