Mystery Surrounds Death of Woman Who Vanished on Walk in Woods and Was Found Strangled 2 Days Later

Harriet Sokmensuer
·2 min read

Authorities in Illinois are investigating the death of a missing woman whose body was found in a forest.

On Wednesday, the body of Vanessa Ceja-Ramirez was found in the Midlothian Meadows Forest Preserve. Ceja-Ramirez had been reported missing two days earlier after disappearing while she was walking with her mother along a trail, the Chicago Sun Times reports.

According to police, Ceja-Ramirez decided mid-walk to return to the car, but when her mother finished the hike, her daughter was nowhere to be found. Worried, Ceja-Ramirez' mother called the police.

Ceja-Ramirez's cellphone last pinged to an apartment complex in nearby Oak Forest, according to Forest Preserve police. However, they could not say for certain whether the 22-year-old had been at the complex.

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On Thursday, an autopsy confirmed the young woman had died of asphyxiation. Her death was ruled a homicide.

"Basically the information we have obtained, Vanessa was strangled. She was tortured," community activist Andrew Holmes told WLS. "Very shocking. No one should have to go through torture or getting beat and burned."

Now, as authorities continue to search for Ceja-Ramirez's killer, her family and friends are mourning their loved one.

"She's just somebody that we believed in, that had our future in her hands, just like most of our kids here," Alejandro Villegas, her uncle, told CBS Chicago. "She was a sweet child that was humble, smiled, shy. She was a good person. And she just didn't deserve anything of this."

Anyone with information about Ceja-Ramirez's disappearance or death is urged to contact Cook County authorities by calling 708-865-4896 or via email at detective.division@cookcountyil.gov.