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Human remains found in Peoria County identified as man reported missing in 2021

Yellow police tape stretches across a blurry crime scene. It says "Police Line Do Not Cross." The text "WCBU Police and Fire" lays on top of that photo.

The remains of a man at the center of a rare "bodyless murder" case were found Saturday afternoon in Peoria County.

Gabriel K. Cook
Peoria County Sheriff's Office
Gabriel K. Cook

Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood said the remains are those of Gabriel K. Cook of Marquette Heights, who was 32 when he disappeared in March 2021.

"It is understandable that questions still exist; it is my hope to be able to answer those questions and others following the autopsy proceedings tomorrow," Harwood said Sunday.

Peoria County Sheriff Chris Watkins said a man was cleaning up brush on his property in the 5600 block of Pottstown Road when he found the remains, which the sheriff said appear to have been there for some time. Harwood said the remains were found nearby in the 2700 block of N. Ellory Rd.

Allen Schimmelpfennig, 31, of Peoria was sentenced to 80 years in prison in May 2023 for Cook's murder and concealment of his death. Though Cook's body hadn't been found, prosecutors were able to secure a conviction. They noted a large amount of Cook's dried blood was found in Schimmelpfennig's storage locker.

Shell casings and a motorbike loaded into a Jeep by Cook and Schimmelpfennig on the last day Cook was seen alive were also found in Schimmelpfennig's apartment. Camera footage, a witness, GPS data, and cell phone records also offered evidence the two were together that day.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.