The search for a missing mother of two from Round Lake Park ended tragically last night as police officers discovered the body of Melissa Best in the back seat of her van, parked in an apartment building complex in Grayslake.
The exact cause of death is still under investigation, said George Filenko, chief of police for the Round Lake Park Police Department.
"Last night at 6:50 p.m., officers located a van and with much regret, found the remains of Melissa Best inside," Filenko said during a Tuesday morning press conference. "This has been a long and intense investigation for the past week and a half. We were hoping for the best but unfortunately, it did not resolve that way."
Her van was found in the parking lot of Gray's Point Studios, 1916 Country Drive, Grayslake, near the intersection of Routes 45 and 120.
Police notified her husband Clinton last night, Filenko said. They were childhood sweethearts who had been married for 18 years.
Best had been missing since April 15, after she dropped off her daughter at a friend's house in Round Lake Park. Filenko said they now believe that Best drove to Waukegan, met with two people that she knew and then "something went wrong."
"We have evidence that drugs and alcohol were involved," he said.
Police believe Best was in Waukegan for four or five hours at the Crossland Economy studios, 1177 S. Northpointe Blvd. She died in Waukegan and was driven to a parking lot of an apartment building in Grayslake, Filenko said. They say there is no connection to Grayslake in particular.
Her body was left there since she died on April 15 and discovered by detectives on April 25.
"We believe that spot was a random location," Filenko said.
He added that his detectives received many leads from information the family posted on Facebook.
"Facebook was extremely helpful," he said in terms of assisting with the search. Filenko said they do not think Best committed suicide, and have talked with "people of interest."
"Someone drove her body to this location," he said.
"Concealment of a death would be a Class 4 felony," Filenko said. He said that it is still too soon to tell if it is a homicide investigation.
Best did have a history of alcohol, Filenko said, and the preliminary test for opiates came back positive. An autopsy will be performed Wednesday April 27.
The Lake County Major Crimes Task Force was involved with processing the van, where Best was found laying down in the back seat.
"Her husband is completely devastated," Filenko said. "I don't know if there is another word for it. Obviously, our prayers are with him."