Updated at 8:50 p.m. to include family confirming where Marquisha Williams’ body was found.
ST. LOUIS COUNTY — The body of a missing St. Louis County woman was found Thursday afternoon, a day after her ex-boyfriend was accused of killing her and disposing of his body.
Marquisha Williams, 29, was found in Illinois — a family member confirmed she was found outside Chicago — by Illinois State Police after more than a week of searches that spanned much of North St. Louis and the Metro East area.
The basement of Mount Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis was a mix of grief and relief as Williams’ mother and stepfather told more than 20 relatives, friends and volunteers that the search was called off .
“I have to inform you that she has been found,” Williams’ stepfather, Terrence Chavis, said through tears.
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Williams’ ex-boyfriend, Trenton Ivy, 31, admitted to police in Racine, Wisconsin, earlier this week that he killed Williams during a fight and dumped her body in an unknown location.
Ivy, a Flordell Hills resident, was initially reported missing with Williams on December 20. But he was arrested on unrelated charges two days later in Racine, and on Wednesday he was charged with murder.
Chavis and Williams’ mother, Norvette Chavis, repeatedly thanked friends, family and volunteers who helped search for Williams when he first disappeared.
The family had asked the public for help via social media, and their pleas were amplified by livestreams and local media. By Thursday, the search had attracted dozens of people from as far away as Centralia, Illinois.
“We appreciate everything that everyone in this room has done for us – the love and support from everywhere,” Terrence Chavis told the church. “I didn’t know St. Louis had that. You are all part of our family now.
Williams’ father, Marvin Williams, expressed relief at the news of his daughter’s discovery, which occurred around 2 p.m.
“I’m just glad they found her and she’s able to come home,” he said.
Marquisha Williams’ aunt, Joy Brown, remembers her niece as a soft-spoken mother of four children with Ivy – an 11-year-old, two 6-year-olds and a 1-year-old. The youngest celebrated his first birthday two days before Williams disappeared, Brown said.
Brown had said earlier Thursday that some family members hoped Ivy had lied about Williams’ murder and would still reappear alive.
Thursday’s news confirmed the family’s worst fears, she said, but it also ended a nightmarish week of uncertainty and allowed them to grieve.
“We are grateful to know that she is no longer alone in the cold,” she said.
Williams and Ivy started dating in high school and lived together until this year. Williams left in August after a period of domestic violence, Brown said.
Williams moved to a new home in north St. Louis County, Brown said, and tried to co-parent with Ivy for the past four months.
On Thursday morning, about 20 people joined Chavis and his wife searching for Williams at North Broadway and East Athlone Avenue.
The wind picked up and traffic on the highway roared as searchers moved past rows of abandoned buildings and streets filled with piles of old furniture, clothes and trash. The searchers, dressed in coats, hats and gloves, used canes to climb onto and search the piles of debris.
A woman who asked not to be publicly identified said she did not know the family but came to help when she learned Wednesday that Williams, like her, had been a victim of domestic violence.
Another woman, Yolanda Jones, a family friend, suddenly turned and wandered into an abandoned warehouse surrounded by a pile of shredded tires. She thought she saw a black blanket, like the one authorities said Ivy had wrapped Williams’ body in.
“She could be anywhere, and I don’t want to leave anything to chance,” Jones, 47, said. “It’s such a tragic thing that someone would do this and send their family on a wild goose chase.”
Back at Bethel Church, Shelia Price was among the volunteers gathered around noon to regroup, hoping to head to a new location before news of Williams’ discovery arrived.
Price, whose son Charles McCoy was murdered in 1996, is part of the nonprofit Mothers Advocating Safe Streets, a group that supports families of victims of violent crime.
“We just want to be here and support the family and show them love,” she said.
Ivy is being held without bail in Racine.
‘Urgent’ search continues for St. Louis County woman after ex-boyfriend charged with murder
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