Today marks the 39-year-anniversary of the disappearance of Sarah Avon, age 6, who disappeared from in front of her Joliet Township residence during the early evening hours on 07/21/1981. Sarah’s disappearance shocked the conscience of local Will County residents and the nation at that time.
The Will County Sheriff's Office has maintained activity on this case from the inception, and has tracked down a multitude of leads over the course of 39 years, all of which have yet to produce any viable evidence.
In light of the anniversary date of the disappearance of Sarah Avon, the Will County Sheriff’s Office is providing an update to the residents of Will County and publicly honoring those who assisted the Will County Sheriff’s Office recently in this investigation.
In May of this year, the Will County Sheriff’s Office had planned to honor a Jackson Township family with the Will County Sheriff’s Office Civilian Appreciation Award. This years Will County Sheriff’s Office awards banquet had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Members of the Will County Sheriff’s Office approached this family about excavating their property in reference to the Sarah Avon disappearance. The Civilian Appreciation Award will be given to the family, for their assistance, compassion, and determination in helping the Will County Sheriff’s Office attempt to bring closure to this case.
The Avon family and Will County Sheriff’s Office have maintained communication throughout the years in reference to this investigation and its progress. As with all cold cases, details and activity provided to the public are kept to a minimum in order to maintain the case integrity, items of evidentiary value, and the development of potential persons of interest.
Since Sarah’s disappearance unfortunate claims, stories in the media, discreditable misinformation and urban legends have over time been retold as fact and evidence. All of which, have yielded no corroborative or supporting evidence to warrant such claims.
When leads in cold cases diminish, it is common and best practice to completely review the case from the beginning. In the Sarah Avon case, this was done. After completing the review, numerous individuals were re-interviewed, scene re-assessments where conducted, an evidence audit was conducted, and modern forensic methods and technologies were reviewed for their applicability to this case.
At the conclusion of this process, it was determined based on numerous interviews, information, and intelligence obtained that an original person of interest in this case remains at this time William R. Redden, now deceased.
In May of 2019, in an effort to eliminate potential crime scenes, the Will County Sheriff’s Office obtained consent to search from the current homer owner of William R. Redden’s former residence. Members of the Will County Sheriff’s Office excavated the crawl space of the home at that time, and no remains were discovered.
On 10/19/2019, the Will County Sheriff’s Office with the assistance of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) began conducting a search of a two-acre piece of property on Noel Road in Un-incorporated Jackson Township, with the use of Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). Members of the Will County Sheriff’s Office had been working and planning with NCMEC in regards to the excavation of this property for almost a year prior.
Members of the Will County Sheriff's Office, investigators from the NCMEC, and Dr. Jarrod Burks from Ohio Valley Archaeology Inc. who specializes in utilizing ground penetrating radar technology, searched the property previously owned by William R. Redden and Redden’s Family in unincorporated Elwood, with the consent of the current property owner. The property was owned by the Redden family until the mid-1990’s.
The Will County Sheriff’s Office and property owners are requesting their privacy to be respected, as they have no connection to this case other than owning property that was owned by the primary person of interest in the disappearance of Sarah Avon.
The search of the property did not yield the remains of Sarah Avon; however the Will County Sheriff’s office will pursue all future leads that are developed in this case. This investigation will remain open until Sarah Avon is found, and closure brought to the family. The Will County Sheriff’s Office will provide updates to the public in regards to this case when there are any further developments.
If anyone has information in regards to this case, the Will County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s assistance in regards to the disappearance of Sarah Avon. Members of the Will County Sheriff’s Office are especially interested in anyone having information pertaining to William R. Redden, of Joliet, at around the time of the disappearance of Sarah Avon.
If you have information, the Will County Sheriff’s Office is urging the public to contact the Will County Sheriff’s Office Detectives Unit at 815-727-8574. You can also leave anonymous tips on the Will County Sheriff’s website at www.willcosheriff.org/enforcement/submit-a-crime-tip. You can also contact Will County Crime Stoppers by telephone at 800-323-6734, or by computer at www.crimestoppersofwillcounty.org/submit-a-tip/.
The images accompanying this press release include a photo of Sarah Avon at age 6, an age progression image of Sarah Avon at age 39 from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and a photo of the person of interest in this case William R. Redden.