UPDATE:

After a search party was organized today to look for a missing 69-year-old Manito woman, authorities discovered a submerged vehicle with a deceased female in the Illinois River.

Authorities were searching for Lois E. Fidler of Manito, who had been missing since Feb. 20. 

The Tazewell County Sheriff Office, Illinois Conservation Police and Fon du lac Park Police Department used boats to conduct a sonar search of the Illinois River as part of an on going search for Fidler.

According to a press release issued today by Capt. Tim Gillespie of the Tazewell County Sheriff's Office, a submerged vehicle was detected on sonar approximately 20 feet from the shore in the Illinois River south of Copper Creek Road at about noon. The vehicle was pulled from the river and was identified as the missing green 2003 Jeep Liberty. An unidentified deceased female was found in this vehicle.

The Tazewell County Sheriff Office with the assistance of the Tazewell County Coroner’s Office is attempting to identify this female at this time. A further update will be released at a later time.

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MANITO - On the evening of Feb. 20, Lois Fidler, 69, left her residence on Copper Creek Road in Manito. She has not been seen since.

“Lois has dementia and didn’t tell anyone where she was going or that she was even leaving,” said Gia Marie Wright, president of Missing Persons Awareness Network, who led a press conference Saturday morning in Manito. She slipped out of her house, got in to her vehicle and drove away. It was already dark, rain and sleet and freezing ground. No camera has picked her up, there are no signs of her vehicle, and no one has seen or heard from her since.”

Fidler was last seen wearing pajamas. She only took with her a light jacket, keys and her cigarettes.

Missing Persons Awareness Network coordinated with the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department, which has been leading the investigation since Fidler was reported missing, to organize a massive search for her.

On Saturday morning, about a dozen people, consisting of community volunteers and Fidler’s friends and family, met at Midwest Central High School in Manito to form a ground search team. They were planning to search a 20-mile radius.

Although they did not attend the press conference, joining the search Saturday were Illinois State Police with aircraft, the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office, Fondulac Park District and the Department of Natural Resources with watercrafts and sonar. They were planning to search until about 4 p.m. or dusk on Saturday.

“We feel there is more ground to cover on air, water and land,” said Wright. “Fondulac Park District said that while they’ve searched the waterways three or four times, they feel the waterways are not clear. Until she’s found, we’ll check again. We are stuck with hunting season until February, so this is the day. There is no tomorrow right now, but we’ve all agreed that we will come back once hunting season is over. We’re not worried about weather: we’re worried about being shot.”

While Fidler could have driven off the road and ended up in water, it is also possible that she could have gone into a wooded area, according to Wright. If that is the case, her vehicle may not be visible from the road because it has been obscured by leaves and brush. Foul play is not suspected.

“We’ve searched the area where they (Fidler and her husband) live multiple times on foot, by car and boat,” said Fidler’s daughter, Katrina Fidler-Melendez. “My dad was on the (Illinois) River this summer with sonar. As far as foot-searching, we’ve completed 100 percent of Canton going door-to-door and businesses, 100 percent of Havana and about 35-40 percent of Pekin. We’re at a standstill. There have not been any sightings.”

Fidler is a female Caucasian with brown hair and blue eyes. She stands 5’1" and weighs approximately 150 pounds. She was last seen driving a cactus sandstone-colored 2003 Jeep Liberty with Illinois license plate number L5995089. To report information on her whereabouts, contact the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office at 309-477-2256 or Missing Persons Awareness Network at 312-620-0788.