Home Christian News UPDATE: Remains of Missing Chicago Pastor Found in Des Plaines River

UPDATE: Remains of Missing Chicago Pastor Found in Des Plaines River

warren beard
L: Screengrab from Facebook / @Marco Anthony. R: Coroner Laurie Summers confirms remains are those of Warren Beard. Screengrab from Facebook / @Joliet Patch

UPDATED July 10, 2024: The body of Warren Beard, an assistant pastor and Sunday school teacher in Chicago, was found Tuesday, July 9, inside his car in the Des Plaines River. Beard, who had been missing for one week, was last spotted at 10:24 p.m. on July 2, driving through an intersection in Joliet, Illinois. His family said he often traveled there to visit friends. 

On July 9, officials in Rockdale received an alert from Chicago police about a vehicle that had been spotted by a long-shuttered section of a dam. Security footage showed the vehicle, with license plates that matched Beard’s, driving around a barricade, through a drawbridge gap, and into the river at 10:45 p.m. 

A search in the murky water took hours on Tuesday. Authorities said divers located the car about 8 feet down in the river. “We’re all sad,” said Chief David Brady of the Rockdale Fire Protection District. “This is not how we wanted this [case] to end.”

Beard’s family, who had gathered for a prayer vigil on July 8, traveled to Rockdale after the vehicle was found. Now they are mourning the beloved church leader and married father of five.

Officials confirmed that the remains found in the car were those of Beard. An autopsy is planned for July 10. 

Police have said they don’t suspect foul play. But Chenier Alston, senior pastor at New Israelite Missionary Baptist Church, isn’t so sure. At a press conference, Alston said, “What I want answered is, ‘Who did this?’”

Alston, who served with Beard at the church on Chicago’s South Side for 18 years, insisted that Beard wasn’t suicidal. “The fact that his car launched off that bridge, [there] were barricades there that had to be driven around,” he said. “And we know how passionate he was about his job, his wife, his children, so we just want answers. And whatever those answers are, we are going to get justice for him.”

Alston described Beard as “the greatest person, one of the great men I ever met in my life, and this is painful.” The pastor urged police to “passionately pursue every single lead” because Beard was “last seen with a particular person.”

On Facebook, Alston has been sharing tributes to his co-worker and friend. “Our brotherhood will remain unbreakable even though you’re no longer with us,” he captioned one photo. “We have your family from this point. Rest well Warren!”

Alston added:

Had I known 6/30/24 would be my last Sunday with you, I would have told you how proud I am of you. I would have sat and laughed with you longer as we reminisced over the old times. I would have told you how much I appreciate you for being an extremely loyal and committed brother. I would have thanked you for being a sounding board and voice of reason. I would have just told you bro I love you. Now, all I have is silence, pain, tears and unanswered questions. I officiated your marriage! I licensed you! I ordained you! Now I have to bury you! This hurts beyond words. This wasn’t the way I wanted it. But in all of this, I still trust GOD! Rest well bro! I love you man!!!

ChurchLeaders original article written on July 9, 2024, below.

Warren Beard, an assistant pastor and Sunday school teacher in Chicago, has been missing since July 2, and his family and congregants are eager to get him safely back home. Beard’s last known location was Joliet, Illinois, where he often went to visit friends.

Beard, 53, serves at New Israelite Missionary Baptist Church in Auburn Gresham, on Chicago’s South Side. He also works for Preservation of Affordable Housing Communities, as Midwest regional director of facilities.

Family members say it’s unlike Beard to disappear, and they’ve been unable to locate any clues. His car hasn’t been found, his credit cards haven’t been used, and his personal and work cell phones can’t be tracked. No one matching Beard’s description has been located at nearby hospitals.

Police say no updates are available. They’re asking anyone with information to contact them.

Beard is Black and has a bald head. He stands 6 feet tall, weighs 220 pounds, and has tattoos on both arms and his back. Beard was last seen driving a black 2023 Honda HRV Sport with Illinois license plates DY20511.

Pastor Warren Beard Missing Since July 2

Yowanda Beals, Warren Beard’s wife of 16 years, said, “My husband goes to work. He comes home, he goes to work out, and he goes to church.” He’s never “not come home,” she said.

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On Monday (July 8), family and friends gathered at Beard’s church to seek help locating him. “Everyone on this stage loves Warren. We just want to bring him home,” said Beals. “Anything else, we’ll deal with that later…We want him home with us, and we want him safe.”

Beard often visited friends in Joliet, and on July 2 he was at a house with “other people…hanging out,” Beals said. His car was last spotted at a Joliet intersection about 10:30 that night. Beard didn’t show up for work the next day.

Theresa Boss-French, Beard’s aunt, said, “We are all hurting right now. We all know [Beard] is not someone who would just disappear without saying a word to his family.”