Community Mourns One Year Anniversary of Robert Bee's Disappearance

PEKIN, Ill. - Friday marks one year since Robert Bee Junior reportedly ran from his Pekin home.

His disappearance gripped the community, prompting many to search for the young boy. However, the answer for what happened to the boy is still a mystery.

It was November 16th, 2016. Pekin Police say the 13-year-old ran from a truancy officer. His mother, Lisa Bee, says he spent the night at a friend's house and the next morning he didn't get on the school bus. We talked to Lisa Bee days after her son's disappearance.

"I just don't know where he's at. It's not like him, he would never take off, he don't ever take off like this." Bee said of her son.

Soon days turned into weeks without any sighting of Bee. Thousands of tips poured nto the Pekin Police Department.

"There were probably days, at least a couple, that detectives didn't go home, following up on leads." Pekin Police Chief, John Dossey, says.

Since that cold November day the community has been consumed with finding out what exactly happened to Bee. Perfect strangers, gripped by the story, felt compelled to search for bee.

Bobette Spillman was one of the first searchers, even though she didn't know Bee or his family.

"It just hit home for me, you know. If it was one of my kids I would want the world searching." Spillman says.

It was a picture of the young boy on Facebook that prompted Mary Jane Richards to change her weekly hiking trip into a search.

"I have 17 grandchildren, if one of them were missing I'd want all the help in the world I could get." Richards says.

Months of searches and candlelight vigils provided hope that Bee would be found alive. Until one hot July day, when a man mowing his lawn on a rural piece of land in Tazewell County discovered skeletal remains, later identified as those of Bee.

"We all knew it, but it was still a shock. It was still a shock. We were holding out for last minute hope, you know." Richards explains.

"It was terrible, it felt like a little piece of my heart was ripped out." Spillman says.

As the investigation continues into what happened, those so deeply touched by a little boy they didn't even know are determined to make sure the impact of his 13 short years of life live on.

"We're going to keep going. We're going to do a lot of things in his memory." Spillman says.

 


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