Body identified as missing woman

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GRAFTON, IL (KPLR) - The Grafton community is reeling after a body washed up on the banks of the Mississippi River is identified as a woman who went missing in December.

A fisherman found 41-year-old Heather Bardsley's body Thursday about 6 miles south of Grafton, IL, along the shores of the Mississippi River.

According to Grafton Police, she was last seen approximately between 10:30pm-11:00pm the night of Saturday December 26th 2015 after being dropped off in front of her residence.

At the time she went missing, there was terrible flooding in the area near her home.

Police investigators believe she was swept away in the flood waters into the Mississippi River. She was very well-known and loved in the community. Her closest friends searched tirelessly for her. They say the last few months without her have been devastating.

"I'm actually ironically happy that we find her because we were living in hell not knowing where she was or what happened to her," said Bardsley's close friend, Chrissy O'Dell. "We just wanted to get her body back so we could bury her properly."

An autopsy was able to conclude a positive identification. Official identification is pending a deontologist review; however there were several circumstantial items of evidence that identifies the remains as that of Heather L. Bardsley.

Grafton Police said at this time, there are no signs of foul play; however the investigation remains ongoing and open. The manner and cause of death are pending the official Coroner’s and Pathologist’s reports. The evidence remains consistent with the original theory that Heather may have been swept up in flash floods during the major winter flooding. It is believed that her remains were under water since the time of her missing and recently surfaced due to the recent warm weather.