Police Searching for Missing College Student

Antinette Keller, a Northern Illinois University student has been missing since Oct. 14PlayCourtesy NIU Police Department
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The disappearance of an 18-year-old freshman nine days ago has the Northern Illinois University campus on edge, and the county's major case squad has taken over direction of the search.

Antinette "Toni" Keller, an art student at the school, was last seen around non on Oct. 14, at her residence hall. She told fellow students she was going to Prairie Park to get ideas for an art project.

Keller was last seen going into the woods with an art portfolio and a camera.

"She just told the people she was going into the forest, which she did all the time to do her artwork because that's a nice way to relax and have your art feel going, and she always came back before dark," Jamie Feather, one of Keller's friends, told ABC Chicago station WLS-TV. "She was supposed to meet someone the next day and never showed up."

Police said they have ruled out a theory, previously reported on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children website, that Keller went to California, where a close friend of hers recently moved.

According to Keller's cousin and family spokeswoman, Mary Tarling, Keller had made arrangements to see family and friends last weekend, and the family realized she was missing when she did not turn up at home Oct. 15.

NIU police immediately began a search once a fellow resident at Neptune North residence hall reported her missing on the evening of Oct. 15, DeKalb Police Department Chief Bill Feithen said.

The Prarie Woods sit just south of the school's campus in DeKalb. Large portions of the park were closed to the public today as investigators searched the area.

"We're continuing to search the river, continuing to search bodies of water, not so much looking for Toni Keller herself, but any clue [that] would come up," DeKalb Fire Chief Bruce Harrison said.

"At different parts of the area which is approximately 150 acres, it's very dense in areas. It also has the river flowing through it," Feithen said.

A flyer has been posted on the Dekalb Police Department's website with a photo of Keller, describing what she was wearing last and where she was last seen.

Northern Illinois University students at plan to hold a rally Sunday at 9 a.m. in support of their missing classmate. Antionette's father Roger Keller is expected to speak at the rally.

According to Tarling, Keller's mother has been hospitalized because of the stress of her missing daughter.

Tarling also told ABC News that a set of dorm keys belonging to Keller were found in the park, but it is still unclear whether they are a previous set made for her, or the set that she took with her on Oct. 14.

A posting from her family on the Facebook page set up to help find her, "Missing Antinette Keller" read: "Thank you for the outpouring of support. It is all this help from everyone here at NIU and the community that will bring Toni home. Please keep it going! Toni, we love you!"

Keller, originally from Plainfield, Ill., is a freshman at NIU and though she has only been on campus for a couple of months, word of her disappearance has her friends worried.

"This is the first time this has happened. It is frightening, and hopefully she is OK wherever she is at. We're hoping that nothing has happened to her," her friend Sydney LaPorte said.

"She is a really tough girl, so if anyone can pull through whatever type of situation she might be in, she can do it," Feather said. "I have faith."

The young woman's disappearance has the whole campus concerned.

"I don't need to know her personally -- she goes to the school that I go to," fellow NIU student Jillian Thomas said. "I remember being a freshman here. We need to come together and we need to bring her home."

Keller is described as 5-foot-6 and 130 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with any information on the whereabouts of Keller is asked to call the NIU Department of Public Safety at 815-753-1212.