EAST DUBUQUE, Illinois - Heavy rains Thursday evening hindered authorities as they continued the excavation of what they said is 14-year-old Chyenne Kircher's remains, buried in a wooded area behind her family home.
As the investigation continues, East Dubuque residents are trying to cope with the loss of a child in their community.
"Just to know that she's been right under our toes, it makes us sick," said Kathy Accola, whose son went to school with Chyenne.
In a moment of solidarity at East Dubuque schools, students wore yellow shirts Thursday to honor Kircher's memory.
"The weather kind of says how everybody feels today," said Kyle Schultz. Schultz was in the same grade as Kircher. He said she was somebody everyone knew. "She was out going. She always had a smile on her face. No matter who said what to her. She just let it go. She was always smiling."
School district administrators have had crisis response meetings to figure out how to help students, staff and parents deal with the murder investigation. They have grief counselors at the ready and have been trying to quell any rumors that happen to pop up.
"Had a script that teachers used for first period . . . Trying to settle people's nerves and kind of a wait and see let's put all the speculation to rest for a minute, and let's just deal with the things that we know," said Superintendent Greg Herbst.
Chyenne's stepfather, Terry Abbas, 40, was arrested and charged with two counts of murder Thursday morning in Jo Daviess County. According to the records, Abbas is accused of strangling a minor identified only as "C.K." with his hand "with the intent to kill."
The filing references an offense date of October 13, 2011. That is the same day Chyenne disappeared from her East Dubuque home. Abbas made an initial appearance in Jo Daviess County Court Thursday, his bond was set at $1 million.