Daughter of Laura Kowal speaks out one year after her mother found dead in river


GALENA, Ill. (WTVO) – The daughter of a Jo Daviess County woman, found dead in the Mississippi River in August of 2020, is speaking out for the first time, and she believes that her mom’s death was not an accident.

Laura Kowal’s body was discovered near Canton, Missouri, which is nearly four hours from where she was last seen, at her home in Galena. Her car was recovered nearly 50 miles from her body.

Her daughter, Kelly Kowal, said that there is absolutely no reason her mom would be in that area, and is now pleading with the public to come forward with any information.

“Someone took my mom’s life the weekend of August 7, 2020,” Kowal said. “My mom was an incredible mother, and a loyal friend and neighbor, and she deserves justice.”

For the first time, Kowal revealed that a federal investigation uncovered new details, which she is hopeful could bring some answers.

“Over the past year, through an ongoing federal investigation, we know that my mom is a victim of an online dating romance scam,” Kowal said. “There is a potential that this is linked to her disappearance and death, but nothing has been ruled out by authorities at this time.”

Kowal said she still remembers that day her mom went missing. She had lunch plans with a friend on August 7, but never showed.

“When I came to the house, the house was certainly in a state that I know she intended to come home, and one of the biggest keys for me that day was that her golden doodle, her therapy dog Effie, was home,” Kowal said.

Laura Kowal volunteered in nursing homes with Effie, and her daughter said that she would not leave her alone for long periods of time. She said that the location where her mom’s body was found later that week makes no sense to her.

“Canton, Missouri and Warsaw, Illinois are completely foreign locations to me and my family,” Kowal said. “We did not know where they were at until we looked at a map, so my mom, myself and our family have no connection down to that area.”

Kowal said that she does not believe that her mom’s death was an accident, and that her mom Laura deserves justice, saying that she needs the public’s help.

“Anybody that knew my mom knew that she would do anything for anyone. She was beautiful, selfless, smart and extremely bright,” Kowal said. “I am asking that if anyone has information regarding her death or disappearance to come forward and share that with the Jo Daviess County Sheriff’s Department.”

Kowal is asking that anyone living along the Mississippi River, from Galena down to Quincy, Illinois, and in Iowa or Missouri, to think back to the weekend of August 7, 2020.

If you have any information, contact the Jo Daviees County Sheriff’s Department at (815) 777-2141.

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