State Briefs 3/27/08
Questions remain after drowning
BLOOMINGTON -- Investigators, the family of CoJuan Harris and YWCA McLean County staff members are all asking what exactly happened following the drowning of the 13-year-old Bloomington boy.
Harris was at the YWCA pool Monday with a group from the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington-Normal when he was spotted at the bottom of the deep end at about 2:40 p.m.
McLean County Coroner Beth Kimmerling said Wednesday he was underwater for several minutes before he was found.
A Boys & Girls club staffer administered CPR, then a physician who was at the pool cared for the boy, Kimmerling said.
CoJuan was removed from life support at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center. Preliminary autopsy results showed he died of brain damage from a lack of oxygen.
"There is no indication that trauma contributed to his death," Kimmerling said.
More than 50 people, mostly children, were at the pool. One lifeguard was on duty, and most of the children were in the shallow end where the lifeguard was seated, Kimmerling said.
"The children were described as being well-behaved and following instructions provided by the YWCA and the Boys & Girls Club," she said.
The pool is 77 feet long by 47 feet wide. Water is 4 feet deep at the shallow end and 9 feet, 6 inches at the deep end. There is one drain in the pool. It is gravity-fed.
The YWCA is conducting an internal investigation, and the pool will be closed until at least Sunday.
"Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to the Harris family,” YWCA President/CEO Becky Hines said. “There are no words to express what we are feeling right now."
Hines said counselors from the Chestnut Employee Assistance Program have been made available to YWCA staff.
CoJuan was a sixth-grader at Bloomington Junior High School, which is on spring break. When classes resume Monday, the school's three counselors will meet with faculty, staff and students.
Journal Star, Peoria
Streator boy's murder remains unsolved
STREATOR - A candlelight vigil commemorating the fifth anniversary of 7-year-old Dalton Mesarchik's murder brought about 75 people together Wednesday night outside Streator City Hall to remember the unsolved crime.
The Streator boy disappeared from his front porch March 26, 2003 while waiting for his church van. His body was found the next day along the Vermilion River south of town. He had been beaten to death with a sledgehammer.
Dalton's mother, Michelle Mesarchik, said her son's murder cast a shadow over the community.
"We've been searching for answers with no resolve in sight," she said.
"In this small of a town, it's hard to believe that no one knows anything about this," said Marianne Williams, Michelle Mesarchik’s cousin. "He was such a sweet boy who died in such a heinous way. I hope the person who did that doesn't sleep a wink."
Police are still hoping for a break in the case. The Illinois State Police put together another multi-agency task force in October to solicit the public's support in finding whoever killed Dalton.
"It's not a cold case. We continue to examine evidence and pursue leads," said Capt. Jill Rizzs of the Illinois State Police. "We received over 200 new leads just last year and have hundreds of items of evidence to examine. We hope to bring this case to a successful prosecution."
A $50,000 reward remains in effect for information leading to an arrest.
Journal Star, Peoria
Grand jury refuses to indict man in mother’s death
PEORIA - A Peoria County grand jury this week refused to indict a 63-year-old man who was caring for his 93-year-old mother when she died in what police described as squalid living conditions.
After investigating the November death of Adelle Childress, the grand jurors refused to indict her son, Douglas Childress, on any criminal charges. Assistant State's Attorney Steve Pattelli speculated jurors might have felt there was no criminal intent on the son's part to cause his mother's death. He lived in the same house as she, fed her and took care of her in the way he felt she would want, and didn't stand to gain financially.
Patelli said it was unlikely his office would seek to file new charges.
Autopsy results indicate the woman's death, reported to authorities Nov. 14, was the result of a combination of bronchial pneumonia, starvation and neglect.
The home had no running water or garbage pickup. Any water used in the home was collected from the gutter, police said.
Journal Star, Peoria
Occupants of two cars trade gunfire
BELVIDERE -- Witnesses watched as people in two cars swapped gunfire Wednesday night, Belvidere police officials said.
About 5:24 p.m., police received reports of shots fired in the area, and witnesses told them they saw people in two vehicles shooting back and forth, Deputy Chief Butch Falkenstein said.
He said a dark-colored passenger vehicle pulled up beside a white vehicle, and a man reached out the passenger side door with a handgun and fired several shots into the white vehicle.
When the dark vehicle sped past the white vehicle, the white vehicle gave chase. A passenger then leaned out of the white vehicle and returned the gunfire, aiming several shots at the dark vehicle, Falkenstein said.
The cars last were seen headed north, he said.
“No one has showed up anywhere with wounds or injuries,” Falkenstein said.
Detectives recovered several shell casings in the area, and continued to investigate the incident Thursday.
Rockford Register Star
Man caught in carjacking outside county complex
SPRINGFIELD -- A Springfield man faces numerous criminal charges after an alleged carjacking outside the Sangamon County Complex Wednesday afternoon.
Tramelle Furdge, 24, of Springfield, was picked up by police in the parking lot of Advance Auto Parts Store.
The incident began Wednesday morning, when two women were arrested at the county complex for their involvement in a ruckus stemming from a child custody dispute. A man was with the women, but he was not taken into custody.
The man, allegedly Furdge, left the county building and returned to bond out at least one of the women. A short time later, he went to his car, but it quite on him. He couldn’t get it restarted, so Furdge and a friend who was with him started walking.
About that time, a man pulled up to the county complex in a white Plymouth Breeze.
“Our suspect sees an opportunity to catch a ride,” said Sangamon County Sheriff’s Capt. Jack Campbell, “so he walks over to the elderly gentleman and places something into his back and says something to the effect of, ‘Drop the keys, old man.’
“The guy gives him the keys. He gets into the car and does a U-turn, picks up his friend who was walking and takes off in the car.”
The victim walked into the county complex and went to the records section of the sheriff’s office, where he told the clerks he had just been carjacked. Campbell questioned the victim and, 10 to 15 minutes later, notified city and county officers of the make, model and color of the stolen car.
Springfield police quickly spotted the Plymouth in traffic on South MacArthur Boulevard. They tried to pull the car over, but Furdge wouldn’t stop, pulled into the parking lot of Town and Country shopping center and continued to drive.
Eventually, Furdge jumped out of the car but did not turn it off or put it in park, so it rolled into the building that houses Schramm-Bacher Jewelers and Weight Watchers, authorities said.
Furdge ran south toward Advance Auto Parts, where he allegedly kicked a deputy in the hand and spit on a city officer during his arrest.