HOMER — An autopsy will be conducted at 9 a.m. Friday following the discovery of human remains at a fire scene in rural Homer.
Vermilion County Coroner Peggy Johnson said that remains found Thursday in the rubble of a farmhouse leveled by fire Friday night were determined to be human.
Johnson told The News-Gazette that workers going through the rubble found the upper torso of a person buried deep below the debris in the basement.
Authorities had been searching since Saturday for Jeffrey Ward, who lived alone in the single-story house at 7886 N 200 E Road in Vermilion County. They returned Thursday with a backhoe and discovered the remains in the afternoon.
“I would like to publicly thank Steve Mason of the Illinois State Fire Marshall’s Office and all the workers who assisted in digging through the rubble in order to bring closure to this complicated case,” Johnson said. “It was their diligence and persistence through inclement weather conditions that will hopefully finalize this case.”
News-Gazette staff writer Tracy Moss contributed to this report.