Image: Nailah Franklin
Brenna Hernandez  /  AP
Dental records confirmed that the unclothed, decomposing body found Thursday behind several vacant businesses in Calumet City was that of 28-year-old Nailah Franklin, who went missing Sept. 19.
updated 9/28/2007 9:02:48 PM ET 2007-09-29T01:02:48

Authorities said Friday that a badly decomposed body is that of a Chicago woman whose family spent nine days exhaustively searching for her.

Dental records confirmed that the unclothed, decomposing body found Thursday behind several vacant businesses in Calumet City was that of 28-year-old Nailah Franklin.

“This is a tragic loss. They’re trying to cope with it as best as possible,” the Rev. Michael Sykes said after emerging from Franklin’s sister’s apartment building on Friday afternoon.

Franklin, a sales representative for Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly, was reported missing Sept. 19 after she didn’t show up for a work meeting. Days before her body was found, her car and some personal items were found near an abandoned building in Hammond, Ind., three miles from Calumet City.

The cause of death has not been determined, though forensic evidence was still being processed, Chicago police spokeswoman Monique Bond said.

Bond said investigators have not determined where the woman died, and department investigators are working with the FBI and Calumet City police. She said the case is being characterized as a death investigation, not a homicide investigation, because the cause of death had not yet been determined.

Frantic search
Franklin’s disappearance triggered a frantic search. Family members and volunteers papered the city with fliers, took out a newspaper ad seeking the public’s help and launched a Web site. The family also offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to her whereabouts.

The Rev. Stacey Edwards-Dunn, who went with Sykes to the home of Franklin’s sister, said the family was thankful for the efforts of law enforcement. “And very importantly, they express their thanks to the community for all their search efforts, prayers and heartfelt expressions.”

Franklin had recently filed a police report about threatening phone calls she received from a man she dated briefly. Chicago police have said they have interviewed someone Franklin dated, but have not named a suspect in her disappearance.

A day before she was reported missing, Franklin sent friends and family what they said was an uncharacteristically vague text message that she was having dinner and would call later. She never did.

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