Remains of missing United Airlines exec found in a forest preserve in Chicago

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, where the body of Jacob Cefolia was found | Eddie J. Rodriguez/

Human remains discovered at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve Illinois on Friday afternoon have been identified as Jacob Cefolia, a United Airlines executive who was reported missing in August 2020.

On October 22, 2021, a contractor who was removing invasive species in the area contacted police about possible human remains in the 700-acre park. 

According to a news release by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Cefolia was found hanging by a belt from an uprooted tree. Cefolia’s wallet, driver’s license, and a backpack containing other personal belongings were also found at the scene, according to local police. 

Clothing, which matched the description of items Cefolia was last seen wearing on the day he was reported missing, was also recovered. 

Remains of United Airlines Exec Jacob Cefolia has been found

Jacob Cefolia. Image from United Airlines

On October 24, 2021, a news release from the DuPage County Coroner’s Office revealed that an autopsy had been performed, and Cefolia had been identified through dental records. However, the cause and manner of death was undetermined and remained under investigation.

There were no signs of foul play, and the matter is part of an ongoing death investigation, said David Pederson, DuPage Forest Preserve Police Chief.

Cefolia was found in an area that had been searched multiple times. It has a dense tree canopy, very thick briars and dense vegetation, and was not near to where police found Cefolia’s vehicle parked, Pederson 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 brings closure to his family and friends.”

Jacob Cefolia was the senior vice president of worldwide sales for United Airlines. According to LinkedIn, he began his career with United Airlines in 2007 when he started as managing director of central region sales.

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