Missing Joliet man found dead in Des Plaines River

Police investigating circumstances behind man’s death

Joliet Police Sgt. Dwayne English speaks at a press conference announcing that Robert Long, 37, of Joliet has been found dead on Friday, April 19, 2024.  Long had been missing for several days.

A man who went missing in Joliet on April 11 was found dead in the Des Plaines River, and detectives are working to unravel the circumstances behind his death.

The body of Robert Long, 37, was discovered almost an hour after his family began a concerted effort to find him Friday morning outside an apartment complex in the 300 block of Bluff Street in Joliet.

A boat crew from the Joliet Fire Department that had been searching for Long in the Des Plaines River had found a body in the same river about 10:50 a.m., south of the McDonough Street bridge, Joliet Police Sgt. Dwayne English said at a news conference.

The body was brought to shore in the 700 block of Railroad Street, English said. Representatives of the Will County Coroner’s Office were able to positively identify the body as Long.

On behalf of Joliet Police Chief William Evans and the Joliet Police Department, English expressed their “deepest condolences” to the family and friends of Long.

“It’s very difficult to even fathom the amount of loss that they continue to deal with and this pain has been re-opened, and I hope all of us in the room can keep that family and the memory of Mr. Long in our thoughts,” English said.

Jewell Robinson, Long’s mother, said he had seven children. The youngest is 10 months old and the oldest is 16, she said. She described her son as a “good man” who was loved by everyone.

Kristal Long, a cousin of Long, said he was the “life of our family.”

The coroner’s office is expected to determine the manner of Long’s death and an autopsy set for Saturday may reveal how long his body was in the Des Plaines River.

When asked by reporters how Long ended up in the river, English said, “Right now, we just simply don’t know.”

An investigation into answering that question remains the utmost priority for the police department, English said. No signs of foul play have been uncovered either, he said.

Robinson said she last saw her son about 7:45 p.m. April 11. The search for Long involved multiple detectives scouring the interior and exterior of Riverwalk Homes and the surrounding area Thursday.

Detectives also joined with Long’s family to search for him Friday.

Joliet Fire Department crews searched the Des Plaines River at 4 p.m. Tuesday and used sonar scanner to search along the west bank of the river from Jackson Street to the Brandon Road dam, said Joliet Fire Chief Jeff Carey.

Crews resumed the search from 8:30 a.m. until noon Wednesday, Carey said. They used both sonar scanner and drone technology to search the bed and surface of the river, he said.

About 10 a.m. Friday, the family of Long, Joliet pastors, detectives and community activists, including Trista Graves Brown, gathered outside the apartment complex at 316 N. Bluff St., to search for Long.

Those participating in the search planned to knock on doors, pass out fliers and search the area around Bluff Street.

“It’s been eight days and my heart is so heavy right now,” Robinson said before the search for Long. “I did all I could do. I don’t know what else to do but to ask somebody, please help me. Help me bring my son home.”

Jewell Robinson (right) passes out fliers to family, friends and others on Friday, April 19, in Joliet, for the search of her missing son, Robert Long, 37.