Details of Disappearance
Dermot was last seen leaving his family's home in Oglesby, Illinois at 1:15 or 1:30 p.m. on January 30, 1972. He took a .22 caliber rifle and said he was going to the woods along the Vermilion River for target practice. He never returned to his residence and has not been heard from again.
When Dermot didn't return home by 3:00, his parents called the police and a search was launched by 5:00 p.m. The day was very cold and during the night, the temperature in the area dropped below zero.
The following afternoon, searchers found Dermot's boots and jacket on the bank of the Vermilion River where it fed into the Illinois River. A set of bare footprints led off the riverbank and twenty feet into the river, which was partially frozen, but there were no return prints. Nearby there was a rifle-shaped impression in the snow.
Authorities assumed Dermot had fallen in the river and sent divers in to find his body. They didn't find it, but did find a rifle under the ice. The gun was presumed to be Dermot's. Its telescopic sight was missing.
Dermot's parents stated he wasn't involved with drugs and alcohol in 1972 and didn't seem to be troubled. He was a junior at St. Bede's Academy and had a B-average, although his family and teachers stated he is extremely intelligent and capable of achieving better grades. He had missed weeks of class in the fall of 1971 while he received medical treatment in Chicago.
His loved ones described him as a quiet and contemplative teenager who enjoyed reading. His father stated Dermot was troubled by what he saw as inequities and hypocrisy in society. He has four siblings and lived in a comfortable middle-class home.
In 1973, the Kelly family's doctor's wife thought she saw Dermot in Chicago. This sighting was never confirmed, but it led his parents to believe he hadn't drowned but had run away from home instead. It would be highly unusual for a person to die in the Vermilion River and have their body never resurface.
A few days prior to his disappearance, Dermot had said he wanted to go away and make a new life for himself. He was carrying only one dollar and some change, and left behind his wallet, identification, driver's license, clothing and other belongings.
His family believed he left of his own accord and possibly have embarked on a transient lifestyle, traveling around the country and working odd jobs.
In spite of an extensive search, there have been no solid clues to Dermot's whereabouts since 1972. He was declared legally dead in 1992, and both of his parents are now deceased. His case remains unsolved.