Bloomington Junior High school student found dead in Illinois River identified

Harwood said had the teen’s body went over the nearby dam, who knows when he would’ve been found due to the speed of the current. (Photo courtesy: WJBC/File)


PEORIA – The dead body found in the Illinois River over the holiday weekend has been identified as that of a 14-year-old Bloomington Junior High school student.

Officers with the department initially found the teenage victim, who was identified as Leron Griffin, of Bloomington-Normal, in the river near Peoria Lock and Dam. Officers then pulled his body from the water, which he’d been under for no more than two days.

Jamie Harwood with the Peoria County Coroner’s Office said that Saturday morning his office was notified about 10:22 of a body that was located in the Illinois River, in the distance behind Liberty Steel.

The office responded to the scene with Peoria County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Conservation river rescue.

The coroner said in a post of the office’s Facebook page that the teen “demonstrates that he died from drowning.”

Harwood said his office examined several factors regarding what could affect the condition of the victim’s body to determine cause of death.

Several environmental and ecological factors play a role including the river current, water temperature and nearby wildlife. Other factors include water depth, rocks or tree limbs that could play a role in the condition of the body.

The coroner also assesses whether fish, turtles or other river wildlife could’ve impacted the condition of the body. These factors could generally, he said, change the condition of the body compared to finding someone on land.

“When people are in the water for any given time … at times it’s difficult to make an identification. Often people don’t carry ID on them, so we had to look for other characteristics,” Harwood said.

Harwood said that sometimes his office could identify the body through clothing or jewelry found on the body. But his office often used tattoos or scars to help make an identification.

“If we have no tattoos or scars that we could make an identification with, then it could become more difficult,” he said.

Harwood said the office screens fingerprints from the body through the state database to search for a match that could provide a definitive identification.

Griffin was identified by a tattoo, which his family provided a description of during the autopsy.

Harwood said had the teen’s body went over the nearby dam, who knows when he would’ve been found due to the speed of the current.

“It’s an unfortunate circumstance, but the positive is that he was located because there was a significant chance had he not been discovered when he was, he might not have been in that location unfortunately,” Harwood said. “The positive part is that he was located.”

There was no reported perpetrated trauma or injury inflicted on the remains. However, an official autopsy was not completed as of Monday afternoon. A toxicology report remained pending as of Monday afternoon.

“One thing I know about grief is if can’t get answers, you can’t move forward,” Harwood said. “What we hope to do with the autopsy, with our collaboration with law enforcement, is that we’d be able to provide some answers.

The Peoria County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the when, where, why, and how he entered the water.

“We hope to get those answers to the family for the grieving process that they’re going through right now,” Harwood said.

This is an ongoing investigation.

WMBD can be reached at [email protected].


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