Officers searching waterways for Bradley University professor, husband

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Jose Ramirez was charged on Oct. 30, 2018 with first-degree murder after he confessed to killing his parents, Susan Brill de Ramirez and Antonio Ramirez Barron, who have been missing since the weekend. | Peoria County Jail via AP

PEORIA — Officers were searching rural Illinois waterways Tuesday for the bodies of a college professor and her husband a day after charging the couple’s 21-year-old son in their deaths.

Crews were focused on streams near the Henry County community of Annawan, where Jose Ramirez told investigators he dumped the bodies from a bridge, Peoria County Sheriff Brian Asbell said.

Ramirez was arrested Monday on first-degree murder charges after police say he confessed to killing his parents, Susan Brill de Ramirez and Antonio Ramirez Barron. The search for them began late Sunday when a relative called authorities to the couple’s home near Peoria, where deputies found blood and signs of a struggle, Asbell said.

The couple, both 63, last reported to work Thursday at Bradley University in Peoria, where Brill de Ramirez was an English professor and Ramirez Barron worked in the school’s information technology department.

Susan Brill de Ramirez and Antonio Ramirez Barron | Peoria County Sheriff’s Office via AP

Susan Brill de Ramirez and Antonio Ramirez Barron | Peoria County Sheriff’s Office via AP

The search area is broad because Jose Ramirez was unfamiliar with the area about 40 miles northwest of his parents’ home and couldn’t give investigators an exact spot where he took the bodies, Asbell said.

“There has been quite a bit of precipitation over the weekend in that area, which causes these creeks and rivers to swell,” the sheriff said. “Obviously, that has influenced the scope of the search.”

Ramirez remains jailed and was expected to appear before a judge Tuesday afternoon.

Asbell said investigators didn’t know a motive for the attack and declined to say how the couple was killed.

Matthew Roberts, 21, is charged with obstruction of justice and concealment of a homicidal death. Asbell said investigators didn’t have evidence that Roberts was involved in the killings or dumping of the bodies, but believed he knew his friend, Ramirez, had done so. Court records on Tuesday didn’t list defense attorneys for either Ramirez or Roberts.

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