IL IL - Joan Bernal, 34, Joliet, 9 Dec 1988

Rle7

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Detectives scoured the country - even going as far as Mexico - in hopes of finding a 55-gallon barrel, similar to the one that appears to be the focus of the Stacy Peterson investigation.

Investigators hoped finding the barrel, with Joan Bernal's body in it, would produce the evidence needed to secure a murder conviction against her new husband.

But 19 years to the day after her friends and family last saw the mother of three, her case remains unsolved, and Joan's mother can't help but draw a parallel to the case of missing Bolingbrook mother Stacy Peterson.

Before she disappeared, Joan apparently told a relative of her husband's threat, her mother said.

"He said he could kill her and put her in a barrel and make sure nobody would find her," Florence Wilms of Downers Grove said.

http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/napervillesun/news/688270,6_1_NA09_PETERSON_S1.article#
 

monkalup

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Joan Bernal
Missing since December 9, 1988 from Joliet, Illinois
Classification: Endangered Missing



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Circumstances of Disappearance
In December 1988, Joan was slated to go on a trip with her husband to Edinburg, Texas. Investigators said they believe that Gilbert Bernal killed his wife on December 9, 1988, after quarreling about taking her children on a planned trip to Texas. The couple had five children from previous relationships and one child together. Bernal made the trip with their 2-year-old daughter and reported his wife missing when he returned two weeks later. Bernal told investigators that she went on the trip but felt bad about leaving her children and wanted to go back home to see them. Bernal said he gave his wife $1,500 before she boarded a Joliet-bound bus in McAllister, Oklahoma. But investigators found that she never made the trip.
Bernal was charged with Joan's murder in 1993. Before she disappeared, Joan apparently told a relative of her husband's threat. He allegedly said he could kill her and put her in a barrel and make sure nobody would find her. The arrest followed a variety of leads, including information provided by a witness who saw the quarrel that led to the slaying.
Witnesses said Bernal was a violent man. Often, Joan and her children would spend the night in a battered women's shelter. Bernal's son said he saw his father choking his stepmother shortly before she disappeared. According to court records, the son said he, his father, stepmother and infant sister set out on a Texas trip but turned around and returned to Crest Hill on December 9, 1988. He says he waited in the car while the couple went into their house and he watched through a window while his father and stepmother quarreled. He told police that the couple fought and Bernal grabbed his wife by the throat and then put her body on a bed when she appeared to lose consciousness. He said Bernal returned to the car and the three drove away without the woman. Joan Bernal's body was never found.
The indictment hinged in large part on the relative's barrel-related testimony, coupled with other witnesses who said Bernal purchased two such barrels shortly before the alleged murder. Only one of the barrels was found in his garage.
But, charges against Bernal were dropped 11 months later after investigators still couldn't find a body and witnesses said Joan was seen in Chicago Heights and Tennessee. The last alleged sighting was in December 1992. Bernal claims Joan is still alive and that she's living in either Tennessee or Kentucky.

Joan was a driver with the Joliet Mass Transit District.



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Investigators
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:

Joliet Police Department
815-726-2491

Source Information:
Suburban Chicago News
Chicago Tribune

http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/2467dfil.html

http://z10.invisionfree.com/usedtobedoe/index.php?showtopic=27182&st=0
 

Nugget

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*bump* thinking of Joan's family during the holiday season while they mark another year without answers.


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Nugget

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*bump* Joan's family is in my thoughts during this holiday season.
 

Gardener1850

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Images of Joan added to Doe Network:

JBernal.jpg
JBernal1.jpg
JBernal2.jpg
JBernal3.jpg
JBernal4.jpg


http://www.doenetwork.org/cases/2467dfil.html
 

Vail

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This is a maddening case. It is so obvious Gil killed her, I can only conclude he has an ally in the sheriff's office that helped him get out of jail and that is also why they wouldn't talk to Marissa. What other evidence do they need? His own son is testifying he saw him do it. Gil is so cocksure because he knows her body is long gone.
 

PommyMommy

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NOV 27, 2020
17 Missing In Will County: One Joliet Case Dates To 1957 | Joliet, IL Patch
[...]

According to a detailed summary by The Doe Network, Joan Bernal was supposed to join her husband on a trip to Edinburg, Texas. Police investigators said they believed that Gilbert Bernal killed his wife on December 9, 1988, after quarreling about taking her children on the planned trip to Texas.

Bernal said he gave his wife $1,500 before she boarded a Joliet-bound bus in McAllister, Oklahoma, The Doe Network reported. But investigators found that she never made the trip. Bernal was charged with Joan's murder in 1993.

Gilbert Bernal was charged with her murder even though her body was found out. Then, after taking over as the new Will County State's Attorney, James Glasgow had the murder charges against Gilbert Bernal dropped in 1994 based on a criminal defense lawyer's contention that he produced four different people who have claimed to have seen Joan Bernal still alive, the Chicago Tribune reported in May 1994.

Joan Bernal was a driver for the Joliet Mass Transit District. She was born in Oak Park and grew up in Hickory Hills, graduating from Stagg High School in 1972.

[...]
 

sunnynz

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Just listened to the episode of The Vanished. Wow what a frustrating case for Joan’s family - essentially knowing what happened but not having the evidence to get justice or to bring Joan home.
 
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