Remains Found in Rural Peoria County May Belong to Missing Woman

Aug 24, 2019

Remains found near Edelstein in far north Peoria County on Tuesday may be those of missing Peoria County woman Tiffini Murphy.

Murphy, 38, was last seen on Sept. 1, 2018 when a friend dropped her off at the old Casey's gas station in Lacon on a trip back from Wenona. Nobody has seen her or heard from her since.

Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood said the remains were found on the Peoria County side of County Line Road, which borders Marshall County, about a mile east of Illinois Route 40.

The remains were brought to Harwood's office on Wednesday for a forensic examination. Harwood met with the Marshall County Sheriff's Office and Murphy's family on Wednesday after the sheriff received a tip the remains might be Murphy's.

Members of Murphy's family underwent a DNA swab test to help identify the remains. Those samples were sent to a lab in Texas for analysis.

It is unclear what the nature of death was.

Harwood said Saturday he is fairly confident the remains belong to Murphy. The Marshall County Sheriff's Office have arrested a suspect in the case. That suspect, 39-year-old Gary Berchtold of Edelstein, appeared in Marshall County Court at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, where he was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of dismembering a human body, and one count of concealing a homicidal death.

Our news partners at WMBD report Berchtold confessed to killing Murphy following an altercation at his residence. He reportedly told Marshall County authorities he then burned her body.

Tiffini Murphy's is one of several high-profile missing persons cases in Peoria County to develop over the last few years. The cases of Alexis Scott of Peoria, Marc Bohanan of Glasford, and Janie Sellers of Peoria are all unsolved.