Remains Identified as United Airlines Executive Jacob Cefolia Found More Than a Year After He Disappeared
His remains were discovered by contractors at Waterfall Glen Preserve Forest Preserve in Illinois, a report said.
Human remains discovered at a Chicago-area nature preserve have been positively identified as United Airlines executive, Jacob Cefolia, who disappeared more than a year ago, officials said, according to a published report.
On Friday, Cefolia, 50, was found hanging by a belt from an uprooted tree at Waterfall Glen Preserve Forest Preserve in Darien, Illinois, south of a youth-group campground. Contractors working in the area found his remains, DuPage Forest Preserve Police Chief David Pederson said in a press release.
His wallet, driver’s license, and a backpack with other personal belongings were also found at the scene, police said. Clothing matching the description of what Cefolia was last seen wearing the day he was reported missing was also recovered, Pederson said.
There were no signs of foul play, Pederson said.
Du Page County coroner, Dr. Richard Jorgensen said in a statement on Sunday that forensic odontologists examined dental records and positively identified the remains belonging to Cefolia. The coroner said the cause and manner of Cefolia's death have not been determined and remain under investigation.
Cefolia worked as a senior vice president of worldwide sales for United Airlines. He was reported missing on Aug. 8, 2020, two days after he was presumed to have gone for a run near his suburban Chicago home. His vehicle was found parked outside Waterfall Glen, previously reported by Inside Edition.
His disappearance sparked a massive search of the 2,503-acre forest preserve that included multiple police agencies, volunteers, and trained bloodhounds, Pederson said.
The police chief said the area that has a dense tree canopy, very thick briars, and dense vegetation, had been searched multiple times and was not near the area Cefolia’s vehicle was parked, the release said.
“On behalf of the Forest Preserve District, I would like to send our sincere condolences to his family and friends,” Pederson said. “We hope this at least bring closure to his family and friends.”
When Cefolia first went missing, a Facebook page: "Help Find Jake Cefolia," was created by friends and family, and organized searches had been taking place daily. People from across the country sent prayers and hopeful messages for Cefolia's safe return: "Prayers4Jake&Family," and "Praying you find Jake safe."
On Sunday, news of his passing stunned those who knew Cefolia, described as "a well-liked friend, family member & executive,” according to a Facebook page.
Cefolia has been with United since 2007. Starting in 2018, he oversaw "sales programs, services, relationships and revenue with corporations, travel management companies and distributors around the world.”
On Monday, United Airlines issued a statement. “We were sad to hear the news about our former colleague Jake and our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time. And we remain grateful for the support and prayers that so many of our employees - including Jake’s co-workers - have shared with one another and on his behalf over the past year.”
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