DNA analysis confirms body as that of slain NIU student Keller

The family of 18-year-old Antinette “Toni” Keller knew in their hearts that the charred body authorities discovered in a park last year near Northern Illinois University was hers, even before DNA testing confirmed it.

“This definitely makes the reality more tangible and vivid,” said Mary Tarling, Keller’s cousin and a spokeswoman representing Keller’s family.

Prosecutors in DeKalb County said Thursday at a brief hearing in DeKalb County Circuit Court that DNA analysis confirmed the body was that of Keller, an NIU art student from Plainfield.

A fragment of thighbone was sent to Dallas-based laboratory Orchid Cellmark several weeks ago to compare it with saliva samples from Keller’s mother and father, DeKalb County State’s Attorney Clay Campbell said.

Keller disappeared Oct. 14. A body believed to be hers was discovered Oct. 16, but positive identification had not been made.

William Curl, who is charged with murder, sexual assault and arson in Keller’s death, is being held on about $5 million bail. He appeared in court Thursday via video.

A forensic anthropologist is testing the charred remains.

Attorneys will reconvene in court Feb. 17.

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