Nearly six months after 46-year-old Illinois woman Laura Wolfe-Orlovich was reported missing, authorities announced that her remains have been found and a man has been charged with her murder.
Lynn Ware Jr., 39, of Martin, Tennessee, was taken into custody in O’Fallon, Illinois on New Year’s Eve, according to a statement issued by the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday.
In July 2020, Laura was reported missing to the Marion Police Department in Illinois. Her daughter, Amber Whitlock, told Dateline’s “Missing in America” that she knew something was wrong when she couldn’t reach her mother by phone.
“My mom’s phone is never off,” Amber told Dateline in September. “She always has it on. To play music. To play games. It’s her communication. So right away, something felt wrong. It was just alarming.”
Amber eventually got in touch with her mother’s roommates, who told her that Laura had left her Marion, Illinois home on July 15 to drive an acquaintance, a man called “Snoop” to Chicago for a family emergency. Over the next couple of days, Laura called her roommates, stating that she was stuck and needed help to get home. But before anyone could help, Laura’s phone was shut off.
During the investigation, police in Marion learned Laura had traveled through LaPorte County, Indiana and on July 31, contacted the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office’s Criminal Investigations Division.
On August 21, 2020, items belonging to Laura were found on property belonging to the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD / South Shore Railway) in rural Springfield Township, Indiana according to the sheriff’s department. This prompted massive grid searches as multiple agencies joined the investigation, but did not report finding anything of significance.
Authorities were without answers until October 28, 2020.
A farmer harvesting corn discovered the human remains in a field in Springfield Township, along County Road 800 North between County Road 300 West and County Road 400 West, according to the sheriff’s department. They added that the remains were found just outside the scope of their grid searches.
The remains were transported to the University of Indianapolis for examination. In December, the remains were identified as Laura Wolfe and officials with the La Porte County Coroner’s Office ruled the manner of death as a homicide.
On December 22, a probable cause affidavit was signed in the case and an arrest warrant was issued for 39-year-old Lynn Ware, Jr.
Authorities identified Ware as an initial person of interest early in the investigation of Laura’s disappearance, but would not provide additional details about his connection to her. Ware was located on December 31 and taken into custody in O’Fallon, Illinois. He waived extradition and will be transported to the La Porte County Jail.
Since her mother’s disappearance, Amber has posted to social media every day, pleading with the public for help and counting the days without the person she calls her best friend.
“She’s my best friend,” Amber told Dateline in September. “There wasn’t a day that went by that we didn’t talk.”
On Monday, she posted to “Where is Laura Wolfe/Orlovich?” a Facebook page dedicated to the search for Laura, stating that “after a long 173 days, we now have some answers as we continue to learn more about what’s happened.”
She continued with, “May those guilty receive the harshest punishment and may justice be served. I am going to be taking a break from posting for today. Thank you for everyone that helped with this, we couldn’t have done it without you. And huge thank you to the incredible detectives and agencies that helped every step of the way! You deserved so much better momma