MACHESNEY PARK – A northern Illinois woman whose disappearance sparked a massive search suffered “blunt force trauma” and an autopsy ruled her death a homicide, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Police said Tuesday.
Katrina Smith, 30, of Machesney Park, was last seen Oct. 22. She didn’t show up for her human resources job at Camryn Company in Belvidere on Oct. 23.
An off-duty firefighter fishing on the Rock River found Smith’s body Friday in the water near Byron. The body was decomposing and caught in a submerged tree, authorities said. The body was clothed but the garments were faded and unidentifiable, the Rockford Register Star reported.
The woman’s abandoned vehicle, purse and cellphone were found in the days after her disappearance. Bloody paper towels also were found, but it’s unclear if they are connected to the case.
Smith’s disappearance sparked a community response with daily search parties, fliers posted seeking information about her whereabouts, and hundreds attending a candlelight vigil on Nov. 1.
Smith’s brother, Chad Kaltved, 38, said family members are confident police will find out what happened to his sister.
“We want justice,” he said. “We’re not going to be happy until we find out who did this.”
Smith’s funeral is planned for Saturday.