The search for a missing college student may have reached a critical point, as officials in Mississippi waited Tuesday for medical and dental records to determine whether a body found in a burnt-out chicken house could be that of 21-year-old Olamide Adeyooye.
Elsewhere, investigators continued to interview several “persons of interest” in a case that gained attention through an Internet campaign launched by Adeyooye’s friends.
The popular senior at Illinois State University had been studying laboratory sciences and biology, and was due to graduate in December. She was last seen nearly two weeks ago at a video store near her apartment in Normal, a college town in central Illinois.
A native of Nigeria who moved to suburban Chicago when she was 8, Adeyooye had planned to return to the Chicago area to complete her clinical training at a hospital.
Friends call her “Ola” or “Ollie” and have described her as studious, quick with a smile and hardworking — an alternative rock fan who loved to shop and waitressed on weekends to help with her school expenses.
“I am my own hero, i am my own motivation, and let’s not forget the people that are closest to me, my friends are those that get me through life,” Adeyooye wrote in her online blog — http://www.myspace.com/olamide1 — which her friends have publicized, hoping the photos posted on it might lead to a break in the case. They’re also circulating links to the video for the song “Hello” by local indie band Bottle of Justus, in which Adeyooye makes a brief appearance.
Too much information?
Some have wondered whether Adeyooye’s blog, which contains information about her school and where she worked, might have contributed to her disappearance.
“I often speak to students and tell them not to share so much information online. You don’t even know who’s reading it,” Normal Police Lt. Mark Kotte said. But so far, he said, investigators have no indication that the blog is a factor, though they are checking Adeyooye’s recent e-mails.
Mississippi authorities notified Normal investigators about an unidentified woman’s body Monday in response to a nationwide alert seeking Adeyooye and her car, Kotte said. The car, a green 1996 Toyota Corolla with Illinois license LBG927, remains missing.
Investigators hoped to know Wednesday whether Adeyooye’s dental records matched the badly burned body found Friday in a fire-gutted chicken coop in Newton County, Miss., not far from Interstate 55, Kotte said. The same interstate passes through Normal.
‘Hope you're safe’
Since her disappearance on Oct. 13, Adeyooye’s family has been a constant presence in Normal. There have been vigils at Illinois State, at Olamide’s former high school in suburban Chicago and at a site near her boarded-up apartment and train tracks, where investigators found personal items belonging to her.
Notes and posters also have sprung up on campus and online. “Hope you’re safe ’cause we missed you in class. - Chem. 140, Sec. 6,” said one handwritten note from students in her chemistry class.
Samantha Troha, one of her best friends, said that Adeyooye had been worried and crying on the phone about that class in the days before her disappearance. She characterized it as the usual stress of a student, which had prompted Adeyooye to study at the library until midnight the night before she disappeared.
“She’s just honestly ... ,” said Troha, a 21-year-old computer programmer who grew up with Adeyooye in the Chicago suburb of Berkeley. “You can’t help but fall in love with her when you meet her. We kind of complete one another.”
‘This is family’
At a vigil on campus, fellow senior Clarence Evans remembered Adeyooye as “a sister who walked this campus strong.” He says she would be pleased that the gathering of hundreds of students and campus officials brought people from so many different backgrounds together.
“With her friends, there were no deep color lines at all,” said Evans, who encouraged people at the vigil to maintain the closeness in her honor.
“This is family. Illinois State — we’re family,” Evans told the crowd.
“Family,” they repeated in unison, as many of them cried and hugged.