Latest: 5:12 pm, 2/25/13, Monday
WATSEKA -- After weeks of searching, people from Watseka found their missing family member. But, it wasn't the ending they were hoping for. A hunter found the body of 33-year old Amanda Walters-Pentecost in a wooded area just outside Hoopeston on Sunday. She disappeared more than three weeks ago. The coroner says she died from exposure. WCIA-3's Anna Carrera spoke with her family.
It's not the first time they've had to cope with something like this. Amanda's cousin was found frozen to death about eight years ago. That was in Watseka. Now her family says they can't believe they're going through this all over again.
Amanda Walters-Pentecost moved to Hoopeston from Watseka a couple months ago. When she missed a custody hearing, her family started to get concerned.
"That's not like Mandy to not show up for court; especially for what she was going for: her children," said Amanda's sister, Kisha Roberts. "She wouldn't do that."
Three weeks and several searches later, a hunter found Amanda's body. It was in a wooded area just south of Route 9 near Hoopeston.
Amanda's family said this raises more questions than answers. They had searched that field before. Now they wonder, if she was in this same field before, why didn't they see her?
They last saw her about a week before she was reported missing.
"She actually got a ride here and she got out and I gave her a hug and a kiss and told her I loved her," said Roberts. "Then she went to talk to my father and my mom and then she left."
Amanda's family said she may have been upset or depressed at the time. But they said they don't believe that's all there is to this story.
Amanda's family said they are still looking for answers about what happened to her, but the Vermilion County Sheriff said they do not suspect foul play.
Update: 1:10 pm, 2/25/13, Monday
HOOPESTON -- The body found in the woods Sunday has been positively identified as that of 33-year old Amanda Walters-Pentecost. She was reported missing January 31. Preliminary autopsy results show she died from exposure. Toxicology tests are pending.
Update: 8:22 pm, 2/24/13, Sunday
HOOPESTON -- The body of a woman who's been missing for three weeks is believed to have been found. Investigators are still working on identification, but Amanda Walters-Pentecost's family said they think it's her.
A hunter found the body in the woods along Route 9 Sunday, about a half mile east of Hoopeston, where she was last seen. Friends and family of Walters-Pentecost came to the Hoopeston Police Department Sunday evening. They had been searching for her for weeks.
"The family has seen pictures today that lead them to believe that the body in question is Amanda Walters-Pentecost," said Tira Howaniec, who is the family's spokesperson.
After weeks of nothing, Vermilion County investigators found something. But it wasn't the something Walters-Pentecost's family was hoping for.
"There was a deer hunter in the area, guy hunting deer antlers, and located a body," said Captain Rod Kaag, who works with the Vermilion County Sheriff's Department.
Authorities said that body had been there since before this latest snowfall. The woman had no identification but they believe it to be Walters-Pentecost.
"This is shocking news," said Howaniec. "It's not the result that we expected and it isn't the result we wanted."
The 33-year old was last seen in Hoopeston and reported missing February 1. The community and police searched for her several times.
"I would just really encourage everyone to pray for this family," said Howaniec. "This horrific news is not being taken very well."
Friends of the family said investigators searched that same wooded area before but nothing had turned up in those searches. Investigators said they didn't see any signs of trauma on the woman's body. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.
Original: 4:00 pm, 2/24/13 Sunday
HOOPESTON- Detectives are investigating a body found along Route 9 near Hoopeston. The search started around noon Sunday and lasted until 4 pm.
Several of Amanda Walters-Pentecost's family members were at the Hoopeston Police Department Sunday evening, but police can't confirm the body is hers. There is an autopsy scheduled within the next 24 hours. The Vermilion County Coroner's and sheriff's offices along with Hoopeston Police are investigating.