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Police searching Des Plaines River near Wheeling for missing woman
By Ashok Selvam | Daily Herald Staff

Anu Solanki, 24, of Des Plaines went missing Monday after leaving her job in the gift shop of the Westin Hotel in Wheeling.


Authorities search for a woman believed to be missing after her car was found near the intersection of Milwaukee Ave. and Hintz Road near the Des Plaines River.


Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

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Published: 12/26/2007 4:55 AM | Updated: 12/26/2007 5:26 PM

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Divers are continuing to search the Des Plaines River near Wheeling today for a 24-year-old woman last seen Monday.

Aided by a helicopter, police have combed the area, looking for clues to the whereabouts of Anu Solanki. The Des Plaines woman was last seen leaving her job at the gift shop at the Westin Hotel in Wheeling around 2 p.m. Monday.

Her car, found near the forest preserved near Milwaukee Avenue and Hintz Road near Wheeling, remains at the Cook County Forest Preserve Police headquarters in Des Plaines, police spokesman Steve Mayberry said.

Solanki's husband, Dignesh, said today he remains hopeful that his wife of nearly eight months can be found. The couple were married on May 6 in New Jersey.

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"So many people in my house and India are just praying, hoping that's she's fine," Dignesh Solanki said.

Solanki said that in his last conversation with his wife, about 1:30 p.m. Monday, she said that after work she would head to the river to properly dispose of a idol of a Hindu deity Ganesh. The idol of the elephant-headed god was broken in pieces, and a priest had advised Solanki to dispose of the statue to avoid bad luck, he said.

The husband added that his wife made a call to a friend while she was driving away from work -- saying a group of men in a car were following her. She told the friend the men had watched her count money from the gift shop, Solanki said.

However, he added that Anu Solanki called her friend back two minutes later and said the car full of men were gone.

"After that we don't know anything about what happened, and police … everybody is still looking for her everywhere," Solanki said.

About 4:30 p.m. Monday, Anu Solanki's friend and a relative found her abandoned Honda Civic in a forest preserve by Milwaukee Avenue and Hintz Road near Wheeling.

Dignesh Solanki said Tuesday that a purse and laptop were missing and that wasn't like his wife not to contact him.

"She always calls. It's never happened that she never called me," he said. "Anything, anywhere she'd go, she'd never do anything without asking or … tell me where she was going to go."

Solanki said his mother introduced the couple and that they dated for two years before marrying. They both hail from the Indian state of Gujarat, which borders Pakistan.

• Staff writer Melissa Jenco contributed to this report.