State Briefs: 1/1/08

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Olney man found dead in ditch

OLNEY – The body of an Olney man was found Saturday morning in a ditch on

South Holly Road.

Richland County Sheriff Andrew Hires said the department received a report

at 7:33 a.m. of a body in a ditch. The deceased was later identified as

Ricky Ray Biehl, 39, Olney.

Hires said a passerby saw Biehl’s body and drove to a nearby farmhouse where

a resident called the sheriff’s department.

Biehl’s body was found north of the farmhouse, approximately one-fourth of a

mile north of his vehicle, which was in a ditch south of the farmhouse.

Hires said the vehicle was in an accident about 3.4 miles south of where it

was found. He said Biehl struck a culvert, damaging the driver’s wheel. He

drove on the rim before going into the ditch.

Hires said there were no signs of foul play and Biehl did not appear to be

injured. He said he was not dressed for the weather, wearing a sleeveless

T-shirt and jeans. An autopsy was performed Sunday, but the results are not

yet known.

Richland County Coroner Randy Kistler also said Biehl did not appear to be


Hires said there was another person in the vehicle, a 17-year-old who had

apparently walked from the vehicle before Biehl did so.

He said the passenger came into the sheriff’s department after he found out

what had happened, and he was interviewed.

Police disperse Peoria crowd with pepper balls

PEORIA  –  After a mob of more than 70 people gathered in the 1000 block of West Russell Street on Saturday night and wouldn't leave, Peoria police left them something.

According to police reports, officers deployed a pepper ball launcher about 11:45 p.m. after the crowd was reportedly yelling and refusing to leave. The launcher shot off about 20 pepper balls and the crowd quickly dispersed thereafter.

Police on Sunday would not comment further on the incident, including why the crowd had gathered.

Hunter pulled from pond died from drowning

KICKAPOO – The Kewanee man whose body was pulled from a partially frozen pond on Friday died from drowning, an autopsy revealed Saturday.

There was no evidence of injury or medical crisis, Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll said. Gary Zarvell, 64, of 3220 E. 2700th St. was hunting geese alone on rural private property in the 9100 and 9200 block of North Princeville-Jubilee Road and was last seen about 7:30 a.m.

Dive and underwater rescue teams found Zarvell's body about 3:20 p.m. in about 7 feet of water, underneath a sheet of ice. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Parts of Pepmeyer suit may be tossed

PEORIA  –  A federal judge this month recommended chunks of a lawsuit filed by three former Knox County prosecutors against their former boss be tossed out yet left in several issues for a possible trial.

The 28-page report from U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Cudmore stopped short of dismissing the claims of Dean Stone, Michael Kraycinovich and Tracy Jones all together. Left in the lawsuit are several claims of First Amendment violations and slander by Knox County State's Attorney John Pepmeyer and wrongful discharge allegations among other things.

Cudmore recommended the dismissal of allegations by the former prosecutors of civil rights violations as well as a claim for punitive damages because of emotional distress. The magistrate judge also recommended the state of Illinois and Pepmeyer be dismissed from the complaint on the basis of sovereign immunity.

The recommendation itself doesn't weigh in on the merits of the case and limits itself only to whether the suit followed the proper legal hurdles.

Cudmore could forward his decisions to U.S. District Judge Michael Mihm, who is presiding over the case. A decision on Cudmore's report will likely come sometime next month from Mihm.

Downtown care center to be built by June 2009

PEORIA  –  A Dec. 21 sale of city-owned property in South Peoria to a private development group means that construction on a long-term acute care hospital is slated to begin sometime next month.

While the property sale comes as no surprise at City Hall, it did provide an early Christmas gift to the city's coffers of $1.035 million.

"We knew it was going to close, it was just a matter of when," City Manager Randy Oliver said. "This puts a piece of property that will generate revenue on the tax rolls."

The property sale had been budgeted for 2008. The sale's proceeds will go toward various capital development projects including a $344,000 for the construction of a park-like setting near a new Glen Oak school once Peoria Public Schools District 150 makes a decision on where to build a school in that area.

The vacated land was sold to Cullinan Medical 1 LLC, a private development firm headed by Diane Oberhelman, to serve as the future site of a $20 million three-story building in a three-block area bordered by Richard Pryor Place, Romeo B. Garrett Avenue and Hightower Street.

Once completed, the 56,000-square-foot hospital, called "The Greater Peoria Speciality Hospital," will provide specialized, around-the-clock care for extended stay patients with chronic or medically complex conditions, such as ventilator dependency, brain injury, cardiopulmonary disease, chronic pain and neuropathy.

Methodist Medical Center and St. Louis-based RehabCare Group formed a limited liability company to own and operate the 50-bed facility where the average length of stay for a patient is 30 days. According to state records, RehabCare owns 75 percent and Methodist 25 percent.

Police seek bank robber

SPRINGFIELD – Police are searching for a man who robbed Chase Bank, 200 S. Dirksen Parkway, this morning.

The robbery happened about 10:15 a.m. Initial reports are that a white man wearing a dark coat, dark stocking cap and sunglasses robbed the bank of an undisclosed amount of cash.

The dye pack included with the money went off, so the robber could have dye on his skin or clothing. He did not display a weapon but presented a note, which he took with him.

Contributing: Peoria Journal Star, Rockford Register Star, Olney Daily Mail.