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Coroner: Man at center of 'bodyless' murder case died of gunshot wound to head

A police car's lights, which are on. The text "WCBU Police and Fire" are laid on top of that photo.
WCBU file photo

Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood says the man at the center of a so-called bodyless murder case died from a gunshot wound to the head.

His death was likely instantaneous.

Gabriel Cook's remains were found in rural Peoria County on Saturday, more than three years after his March 2021 disappearance. Allen Schimmelpfennig, 31, of Peoria was sentenced to 80 years in prison for Cook's murder in 2023, despite the fact his body hadn't been found at the time.

Prosecutors used other evidence to obtain a murder conviction in the case, including a large amount of Cook's dried blood discovered in Schimmelpfennig's storage locker.

Harwood says items on Cook's body were used to identify his remains. That included the serial number on an orthopedic device screwed into one of his joints.

Harwood says a forensic dentist will analyze dental records for a match next.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.