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Joliet man, 32, held in connection with mother’s murder

JOLIET -- A woman whose body was discovered Thursday in the Des Plaines River was murdered and her son has been arrested, police said.

Joan M. Smith, 59, was found floating near the south bank about a quarter-mile west of Brandon Road. Smith was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:30 p.m.

Will County Coroner Patrick K. O’Neil said Smith was identified Friday evening from a “serial number on a medical appliance” in her body after an autopsy.

Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton said Smith’s sister reported her missing on Monday. She had last been seen Oct. 13 by relatives.

Benton said Smith lived with her two sons in the 1600 block of Black Road.

After detectives interviewed Shane Smith, 32, police obtained a search warrant early Saturday for the family residence. Benton said the Cook County Bomb Squad was called to the scene because “suspected explosives” were found inside as evidence was collected.

Shane Smith was booked into the county jail around 5:30 a.m. Saturday on charges of concealing a homicide and obstructing justice. Benton said murder charges are pending.

“It does not appear the victim’s other son was involved,” Benton added.

Benton said detectives believe Joan Smith was slain prior to being reported missing, but would offer no motive. Because Smith’s body was found in the water, state police were the first to investigate and remained active on the case, Benton said.

A neighbor said she awoke after midnight Saturday and noticed all the lights were on at the Smith house. Knowing that Joan Smith had been reported missing, she wondered if something was up.

Joan Smith was an avid gardener, said Jessica Barrientos, whose family is neighbors with the Smiths. “She used to give us tomatoes and cucumbers. She was very quiet and very nice,” Barrientos said.

Neighbor Mary Denardis recalled that Smith used to raise Dalmatians. “That was many years ago, though,” she said.

Officers had been called to the Smith home for prior domestic disputes, Benton said, but detailed reports were not immediately available.

Records show Shane Smith previously served time in prison for armed robbery.

In June 2000, Smith covered his face with a bandana and used a shotgun to hold up a gas station on Jefferson Street for $450.

Two nights later, Smith tried the same method to rob a motel on McDonough Street, but was unsuccessful when the clerk locked herself in the office. He robbed a gas station 45 minutes later on Plainfield Road in Crest Hill, according to reports.

A few nights after that, Smith was picked up on an unrelated warrant and officers noticed his similarities to the robber, reports said.

Contributing: Donna Vickroy

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