All Courts Police and Fire Content

All Courts Police and Fire Content

Van driver found guilty of murder

TUSCOLA – Douglas County Judge Frank Lincoln said that when defendant Levi Gast crashed his vehicle head-on into an oncoming vehicle, Gast expected to die in the crash, so he had to have known the other driver would likely be killed too.

Friday afternoon, Lincoln found Gast guilty of first-degree murder, and scheduled Gast's sentence hearing for Aug. 22. Gast could serve 20 to 60 years, with no possibility of parole.

Police never gave up on search

DANVILLE – The recovery of Ryan Katcher's body from a Kickapoo State Pond on Tuesday not only brought closure to the missing Oakwood man's family and community, it also brought a much-needed ending for law enforcement officials, who've been consumed with the case for more than 5 years.

"With this amount of time ... we knew that if this ever ended, it wasn't going to be a good ending," said Gary Miller, a retired captain with the Vermilion County Sheriff's Department and the case's lead investigator for more than four years.

Firefighters use new tools to rescue man

URBANA – Firefighters put their new rescue system to work quickly Wednesday afternoon when walls of a 6-foot trench collapsed, partially burying a Forrest man who was working in it.

Enrique Salinas walked out 30 tense minutes later under his own power to report to ambulance workers waiting to check his condition. He was treated at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana and later released.

UI student's body found

RURAL OAKWOOD – Tuesday's discovery of Ryan Katcher's body and truck in a Kickapoo State Park pond lifted the shroud of mystery surrounding the Oakwood man's disappearance more than 5 years ago.

While sending the family into mourning, it also provided closure for his mother, Linda Griffith, who has been searching for the 19-year-old college student since he went missing on Nov. 5, 2000.

Officials locate Ryan Katcher's truck at Kickapoo

Local law enforcement officials this morning located Oakwood High School graduate Ryan Katcher’s black 1999 Ford F-150 pickup truck. Katcher has been missing since November 2000.

Detectives could not confirm this afternoon if Katcher’s remains were in the truck.

Crowd supportive of citizens review board

URBANA – A crowd of about 50 people, nearly all of them in favor of creating a citizens police review board in Urbana, spoke for nearly three hours Monday at a second public hearing on the issue.

Several speakers said a police review board might have prevented situations such as the one involving former Urbana police Officer Kurt Hjort, who resigned from the force Sept. 21 while being investigated for allegedly raping an Urbana woman while on duty.

City falls short on minority hiring goal

CHAMPAIGN – The city did not meet its goal for minority work force representation in 2005.

Champaign's goal was to have 14.7 percent of its work force be minorities, but the final percentage was 12.5 percent.

The figures are contained in the city's 2005 affirmative action report, which will be discussed by the Champaign City Council at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The council meets in study session in council chambers at the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St.

Authorities identify former Urbana man found near tracks

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup and the Champaign police are investigating the death of a man whose body was found near railroad tracks in Champaign on Thursday.

The coroner's office pronounced the official time of death at 11:45 a.m. Thursday at the scene, Northrup said.

Urbana to pay $100,000 as part of settlement

URBANA – The city will pay $100,000 from its liability fund to help settle a federal lawsuit brought by an Urbana woman who says she was raped by an on-duty Urbana police officer.

The out-of-court settlement was reached and the case dismissed April 12 in U.S. District Court in Peoria. The settlement includes a confidentiality agreement that city officials say precludes them from releasing exactly how much money will be paid to Amber Grohall, who brought the suit.

Champaign police seek details on copper thief

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign cops are looking for someone who has been stealing copper.

Since April there have been eight reports of copper being stolen, mostly from businesses and generally in the center of the city, according to Champaign police crime analyst Gary Spear.