More than three weeks after a high-ranking United Airlines executive vanished without a trace, the circumstances of Jake Cefolia’s disappearance remain a mystery.
Cefolia, the Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales at United Airlines, was reported missing on August 8, two days after he was last seen at his home in Elmhurst, Illinois. Elmhurst Police Chief Michael Ruth told CrimeOnline that Cefolia’s ex-wife reported him missing after she could not reach him and did not find him at his home when she went to check on him.
Last week, citing law enforcement sources, CrimeOnline first reported that Jake Cefolia is the subject of a criminal investigation that began prior to his disappearance. Authorities have not commented publicly on the nature of the criminal investigation. Chief Ruth said on August 24 that authorities had not issued an arrest warrant for Cefolia, and no criminal charges had been filed against him.
The Elmhurst Police Department has not responded to numerous inquiries for a follow-up interview. A public records request is pending. Requests for comment from Cefolia’s colleagues, including his supervisor, have not been returned.
Chief Dave Pederson of the Department of Law Enforcement for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County said there were no park-issued surveillance cameras that could have captured images of Cefolia in the parking lot where his vehicle was found on August 8, adjacent to the Watergall Glen Forest Preserve. Authorities have said that Cefolia was known to go running there. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is not in possession of any still or video footage of Cefolia in the area of the forest preserve, Pederson said. It does not appear that investigators know exactly when Cefolia’s vehicle arrived at the preserve.
As previously reported, Chief Ruth confirmed that Cefolia was captured on grainy surveillance video at a gas station, after he was last seen at his home, but said the footage did not provide a clear image of Cefolia’s clothing.
CrimeOnline obtained incident reports from both the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and the DuPage County Sheriff’s office documenting the August 8 discovery of Cefolia’s Land Rover in the parking lot near Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in Lemont. A DuPage County Sheriff’s deputy spotted the vehicle in the early hours of August 8, before Cefolia was reported missing later that day. When an officer from the Forest Preserve District’s law enforcement unit ran the plates on the vehicle that Saturday night, the inquiry triggered a missing and endangered persons alert. Investigators from multiple agencies immediately reported to the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve and conducted an initial search for Cefolia, aided by scent-tracking dogs.
“We did not locate the subject at the time,” a DuPage County Sheriff’s deputy wrote in the incident report dated August 8.
Chief Pederson said that his agency and assisting agencies performed daily searches of the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in the two weeks following Cefolia’s disappearance. Pederson said that a new search, using a different team of K-9s not used in previous searches, was scheduled for this coming Wednesday, September 2.
Posts on social media pages dedicated to Cefolia’s disappearance indicate that volunteer searches for the 49-year-old father in the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve are ongoing.
Chief Pederson said that while volunteer searches are permitted, “I’d like to deter large scale searches [by] untrained civilians. We don’t want anyone to get injured.”
He said that the preserve has seen an uptick of visitors this season, likely due to the pandemic-related shutdowns that have limited indoor recreational activities.
“Almost every other day we have injuries, including heat exhaustion,” Pederson said.
Anyone with possible information about Cefolia’s disappearance is urged to call the Elmhurst Police Department at 630-530-3050.
CrimeOnline will continue to update this developing story.
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