Arrest Made In Nearly 40 Year Old Cold Case Murder

The murder of Diane Small has baffled police for decades.

That’s why the Coles County State's Attorney says the break in the case has been a long time coming.

He says with the help of several law enforcement agencies they're going to put this case to rest.

"Nobody knew who it was because there wasn't any head, feet and hands," Judy Whiteside, a Coles County resident, said.

In 1980, law enforcement found a dismembered woman's body at the Airtight Bridge in the rural part of Coles County.

Whiteside had just moved into her house, near where officers discovered Smalls, and she says it's a day she won't forget.

"They (officers) didn't tell me what was wrong, they just asked me if I had heard anything last night down at the bridge and I hadn't.”

37 years later, 70-year-old Thomas Small has been arrested in Kankakee County in connection to his wife's murder.

"Through that cooperation the good work has been done, which will bring closure to the family of Ms. Small and closure to this community," Coles County State's Attorney Brian Bower said.

Diane's body was so unrecognizable that it took 12 years to identify her through DNA.

By then, Whiteside says she had given up hope this woman's killer would ever be found.

"I thought about it… whoever dumped her there didn't know the place because they would have known that dumping her off the bridge she wasn't going to go but a few feet.”

The State’s Attorney says investigators are still trying to understand where this murder happened.

He says if the murder happened in Kankakee County, Thomas Small will be charged there.

If Thomas allegedly killed his wife in Coles County, he'll be charged there.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off