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Missing United executive's remains found hanging from tree in preserve

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 10/24/2021 Ariel Zilber For Dailymail.com
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A United Airlines executive who went missing more than a year ago during a jog near his suburban Chicago home, has been found hanging by a belt from an uprooted tree in a nature preserve. 

Contractors found the remains of Jacob Cefolia, 50, of Elmhurst, Illinois, on Friday afternoon in an area of heavy brush and vegetation at the 2500-acre Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve near Darien. 

It was the same location where Cefolia's Range Rover Sport was found after he went missing on August 8, 2020. 

A forensic odonatologist examined dental records and positively identified the remains as belonging to Cefolia, according to the corner. 

Jacob Cefolia, 50, of Elmhurst, Illinois, went missing in August 2020 after going for a job in a nature preserve in suburban Chicago

Jacob Cefolia, 50, of Elmhurst, Illinois, went missing in August 2020 after going for a job in a nature preserve in suburban Chicago
© Provided by Daily Mail

Cefolia was senior vice president of global sales for Chicago-based United Airlines, the fourth largest passenger carrier in the United States. An avid runner, he was known to jog through the area, running for several miles at a time.

The contractors were removing invasive species in the area when they came across 'human remains hanging from a low hanging tree,' according to the Forest Preserve District chief of police.  

The remains were found away from any trail in an area south of a campground for youth groups.

DuPage County Forest Preserve District police Chief David Pederson said his agency notified the DuPage County Coroner's Office.

'The human remains were located in a very thick covered brush area, extremely, so you can be 10 feet away and not see it,' Pederson told NBC 5 TV

Authorities say Cefolia often went running but hadn't made contact with his family or friends © Provided by Daily Mail Authorities say Cefolia often went running but hadn't made contact with his family or friends

'Obviously the foliage is starting to drop this time of year, these contractors were working in a very thick area...' 

The chief medical examiner, Richard Jorgensen, performed an autopsy on Saturday during which it was confirmed that the remains were that of Cefolia. 

In a news release, Jorgensen's office said that the cause and manner of death remain under investigation. 

Pederson said it did not seem like a natural cause of death but the coroner’s office will make the official determination.

Elmhurst police have also been notified because the department received a missing persons report in August 2020 about Cefolia. 

The United Airlines executive's ex-wife reported him missing after he failed to pick up his children for his scheduled visitation. 

Cefolia’s vehicle was found parked outside Waterfall Glen, but he was never found after a search that included multiple law enforcement agencies, volunteers and trained bloodhounds.

Law enforcement officials said they found a COVID-19 face mask hanging from the steering wheel, a gray pullover in the back seat, and a golf bag with a set of clubs and $120 in cash in the trunk. 

The gray pullover and a pair of glasses were used as scent for the bloodhounds to search the woods, but after tracking the scent southeast from where the SUV was parked, they lost the scent 20 yards in and stopped, according to police. 

The Forest Preserve District is leading the death investigation.

Cefolia worked with United since 2015 and assumed his global sales executive position in 2018.  

Bill Boerum, a California businessman, posted a photo showing him shaking hands with Cefolia. He paid tribute to the late United executive © Provided by Daily Mail Bill Boerum, a California businessman, posted a photo showing him shaking hands with Cefolia. He paid tribute to the late United executive 'What life has in store for us, we never know,' Boerum wrote on Saturday. 'In the time since my posting six years ago, the magnetic and engaging Jake Cefolia moved up more rungs on the United Airlines ladder to Senior Vice President. Then…15 months ago, vanished' © Provided by Daily Mail 'What life has in store for us, we never know,' Boerum wrote on Saturday. 'In the time since my posting six years ago, the magnetic and engaging Jake Cefolia moved up more rungs on the United Airlines ladder to Senior Vice President. Then…15 months ago, vanished'

Bill Boerum, a California businessman, posted a photo showing him shaking hands with Cefolia. He paid tribute to the late United executive.

'What life has in store for us, we never know,' Boerum wrote on Saturday. 

'In the time since my posting six years ago, the magnetic and engaging Jake Cefolia moved up more rungs on the United Airlines ladder to Senior Vice President. 

'Then…15 months ago, vanished. 

'His car was found near his home at a regional park in a Chicago suburb - no trace of foul play. 

'He was enduring personal and emotional challenges, and spoke of getting off the grid. 

'A brilliant corporate career and relationships abandoned.

'The press releases about the search stopped long ago.' 

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