OGLE COUNTY — On Friday afternoon, an off-duty Byron firefighter fishing the Rock River in Byron saw a body in the water, ensnared in a submerged tree. The Ogle County Sheriff’s Department and the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department were called to the scene. Rescuers said the body had been in the water for a significant amount of time and had begun to decompose. Though the body was clothed, the garments were faded and unidentifiable, according to reports.
Since Oct. 22, the Machesney Park community and the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department has been searching for missing 30-year-old Katrina Smith. The body found in Byron Friday was confirmed as that of Smith following an autopsy Saturday by the Ogle County Coroner’s office. The Winnebago County Sheriff's Department used dental records to confirm that the body was that of Smith. On Tuesday Winnebago County Sheriff's office release the results of the autopsy. The results showed Katrina Smith suffered blunt force trauma and the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department is classifying this as a homicide investigation. The Winnebago County Sheriff's Department has taken the case back from Ogle County and will continue the investigation into her disappearance and death.
Todd Smith, 45, reported his wife missing on Oct. 23. She was last seen Oct. 22 as she left her Tetterhall Lane home in Machesney Park to run an errand. Winnebago County Deputy Chief Dominic Iasparro said Smith’s abandoned vehicle, purse and cellphone were found scattered near Schoonmaker Park weeks ago. Volunteers found bloody paper towels in that area but it is unclear whether they are connected with the case.
Family members, friends and volunteers joined officers ‘ efforts by creating search parties and posting fliers seeking information about Smith’s whereabouts. Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil Nov. 1 to pray for her return. Smith’s family spoke on WIFR-TV Sunday, thanking the community for their outpouring of support and to announce memorial services for Smith. A visitation was held on Nov. 16 at Heartland Community Church, 1280 South Alpine Road in Rockford. Funeral serviceswere held on Nov. 17.
The family has kept the community up to date on the search for Katrina through Facebook. The Facebook page Findkatrinasmith was started to help raise awareness and share information about the missing woman since her disappearance.
Anyone who may have information concerning this investigation is asked to call the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department at 815-319-6400 or Rockford Area Crime Stoppers at 815-963-7867.