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Rev. Warren Beard, 53, of New Israelite Missionary Baptist Church in Auburn Gresham went missing July 2 in Joliet, Illinois. Credit: Chicago Police/Google Maps

AUBURN GRESHAM — Will County Fire Department officials recovered the body Tuesday evening of a South Side pastor who went missing last week. 

Rev. Warren Beard, 53, of New Israelite Missionary Baptist Church, was last seen at about 9 p.m. July 2 in Joliet, Illinois, authorities and his family said.

Beard would often visit Joliet to see friends in the area, but he didn’t return home last Tuesday or arrive to work Wednesday morning, his family told NBC5.

His car, a 2023 Black Honda HRV Sport, was also missing, his family said. His car was last seen on a license plate reader camera around 10:30 p.m. July 2 in the 400 block of North Broadway Street, the Sun-Times reported.

Will County Fire Department officials found Beard's car Tuesday afternoon in the Des Plaines River, according to the Sun-Times. Beard’s body was found “approximately 150 yards west of Brandon Road in Rockdale,” a village in Will County, according to a statement from the Will County Coroner's Office. He was pronounced dead 6:20 p.m. Tuesday.

A fisherman told police they “heard a loud noise” near where Beard’s car entered the water, but didn’t see anything when they walked closer to the sound, according to NBC Chicago.

Illinois State Police are investigating, and an autopsy will be performed Wednesday, Will County Coroner Laurie H. Summers said in a statement. The coroner will rule on the cause and manner of Beard's death following the autopsy, as well as police and toxicology reports, Summers said.

Beard served as assistant pastor at the Auburn Gresham church, 1625 W. 75th Place, for the past six years. He was also Regional Director of Facilities at the Preservation of Affordable Housing, a nonprofit that owns and operates affordable housing in the Chicago area.

Families, friends and fellow church members held a press conference Monday at the church to ask for help in finding Beard.

Beard was a “rock for the family, tending to ailing relatives and keeping everyone abreast of updates and keeping the family close,” his aunts Theresa Boss-French and Trish Truitt said in a press release Monday.

“Big-hearted, honest, the epitome of a family man,” his son Shane Beard said in the release.

Family members and a family spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

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Atavia Reed is a reporter for Ecoglobalsociety, covering the Englewood, Auburn Gresham and Chatham neighborhoods. Twitter @ataviawrotethis