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Man found dead in Little Wabash River in Effingham County identified

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EFFINGHAM — Tattoos, DNA and dental records were used to identify a man found dead in September in the Little Wabash River in rural Effingham.

Effingham County Coroner Kim Rhodes identified the man as 25-year-old Ladonte D. Ealy of Dayton, Ohio.

The cause of death and how Ealy came to be in the river are still under investigation, Rhodes said. The autopsy and toxicology results are pending.

A preliminary investigation by the Effingham County Coroner’s Office and the Illinois State Police revealed that Ealy was released from St. Louis County Jail on Sept. 1.

Ealy was found on Sept. 18 by two young men who were kayaking down the river and spotted a deceased individual along the river bank lodged between the trees and river debris. The location was southwest of Effingham, near the Summit and Jackson township line (the end of 1175th Street).

The Effingham County Dive Rescue Team recovered the body. According to Rhodes, Dive Team Commander Terry Trueblood estimated the individual had been in the water for 10-12 days.

Rhodes said Deputy Coroner Karen Hoene also used social media to find that tattoos photographed at the autopsy were an exact match to Ealy’s tattoos on his Facebook page. Several upper and lower teeth were missing and later found during the autopsy.

Authorities are asking anyone with information on Ealy or saw any unusual activity near the Little Wabash River the first week of September to contact Illinois State Police Special Agent Timothy Brown at 217-342-7861 or the Effingham County Coroner’s office at 217-342-4651.


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