1995 Jane Doe Case in Champaign County Has Ties to Sangamon, Morgan County Fairs

By Benjamin Cox on October 20, 2020 at 3:53pm

1989 & 1990 Galva High School Yearbook Photos of Keri Lynn Wyant. (Champaign County Sheriff's Office)

A Jane Doe from a 1995 Cold Case in Champaign County has some ties to West Central Illinois. Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Heuerman announced today that investigators have identified the remains of a woman found in Thomasboro in rural Champaign County in 1995. Through DNA extracted from the bones of an unknown woman in her 20s discovered in a field, genealogists and detectives were able to construct a family tree through a DNA genealogy kit to identify the deceased as then-23 year old Keri Lynn Wyant, who’s last know whereabouts was a carnival worker for Swyear Amusements.

On May 1st, 1995 in rural Thomasboro, an agriculture service worker found bones and some clothing while helping a farmer prepare for planting. Police were called and more bones were found in the area. An autopsy determined the bones and body could have been placed in the field 11 months prior to being found. At the time, the coroner ruled the death a homicide.

Swyear Amusements, based out of New Athens in St. Clair County, was the long-time carnival service that served both the Sangamon County Fair and the Morgan County Fair during the mid to late 90s. The amusement group also served the Henry County Fair, the Granite City Celebration, and the Fisher Fair before focusing on venues in Arkansas, according to WAND-TV.

The Champaign County Sheriff’s Office is currently trying to determine the manner of death and Wyant’s ties to the county, after not having spent time there. Wyant was originally from Galva but also spent brief stints in Galesburg, Abingdon, Peoria, and New Athens as well as time in Arkansas and Texas. The reality TV show, The Unknown Doe Project, helped with the investigation and helped provide the DNA and genealogy services at no cost.

Investigators are hoping to retrace her life prior to what they believe was a homicide. Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup is asking for anyone who worked with Wyant or was a close associate to please step forward and provide help in the ongoing investigation. If you or anyone you know may have information into Wyant’s last known whereabouts or about her life between 1990-1995 to please call the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office at 217-384-1204.