Woman found stabbed to death and floating in Lake Michigan is identified as heavily-pregnant 19-year-old
- Officials with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office confirmed on Saturday the so-called Lake Michigan Jane Doe is Yarianna Wheeler, 19, of Chicago
- Authorties said she had several ‘sharp force’ injuries on her body and her death is being investigated as a homicide
- She was found floating in the water of Lake Michigan on August 15 when she was six months pregnant
- Officials say she was likely floating in the water for seven to 12 days before she was found by a fisherman
- They said she could have entered the water anywhere from northern Indiana to northern Illinois
A heavily pregnant woman who was found floating in Lake Michigan after she was stabbed to death has been identified as a 19-year-old Chicago woman.
Officials with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office have confirmed that the so-called Lake Michigan Jane Doe is Yarianna Wheeler, a missing Chicago woman who was between six to nine months pregnant.
Authorities said she had several ‘sharp force’ injuries on her body, and her death is being investigated as a homicide as a result.
A full autopsy to determine Wheeler’s official cause of death is still pending.
Yarianna Wheeler, 19, was identified as the woman whose body was found floating in Lake Michigan on August 15. She was between six to nine months pregnant
Lake County Sheriff’s Office officials said she had apparently been floating in the lake (pictured) for seven to 12 days before being found, and could have entered it anywhere from the northern Indiana shoreline to the northern Illinois shoreline
The announcement, though, came nearly one week after Wheeler was found floating in the water, where she had apparently been for seven to 12 days.
Officials said she may have entered the water ‘anywhere from the northern Indiana shoreline to the northern Illinois shoreline of Lake Michigan,’ according to the New York Post.
A fisherman on the lake found her at around 3 p.m. on August 15, according to the Lake McHenry Scanner, and immediately called authorities.
By August 20, the Sheriff’s Office released a sketch of what they believed the victim may have looked like before floating in the water for seven to 12 days.
Authorities released this sketch of the victim, leading to dozens of tips, one of which led them to positively identify Wheeler as the victim
The department then received several dozen tips, one of which led them to Wheeler, who was caught on surveillance footage entering a store on the last known day she was seen alive.
‘When they saw the image, they knew they were on the right track,’ Lt. Christopher Covelli of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, told ABC 7. ‘From there, they were able to obtain dental records, which led to her ultimately being identified.’
Even though authorities have now identified the Jane Doe, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in providing any information about a potential suspect in her death.
Just hours after Wheeler’s body was discovered, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter found the body of a man, identified as 49-year-old Martin Mendoza, of Waukesha, Wisconsin, also floating in the lake.
Officials say it appears he drowned, and the two incidents are not related.