DANVILLE – Linda Griffith can't imagine how many times she drove through Kickapoo State Park looking at fall foliage and other sites, but not knowing that her missing son, Ryan Katcher, was there.
In July 2006, the Vermilion County Search and Rescue Team and the Vermilion County Dive Team found Mr. Katcher, 19, in his truck in Clear Pond in Kickapoo State Park. The University of Illinois student and Oakwood High School graduate had been missing since Nov. 5, 2000.
URBANA – It wasn't quite what Wendell and Margaret Winkelmann of Urbana were expecting early on a recent morning when Wendell got out of bed to let their little dog, Gandy, outside.
Just outside the door by the bushes, Margaret Winkelmann said, was a big pit bull.
MONTICELLO – Monticello native Wesley Stiverson is being honored on Memorial Day in Washington, D.C., as his name and the names of two other soldiers are unveiled as the newest additions to the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
SP4 Stiverson, who was drafted into the Army in 1970, two years after graduating from Monticello High School, served in Vietnam until April 6, 1971, when his unit came under fire. A mortar shell exploded, and fragments caused penetrating wounds to his head, his right hand and right thigh. Although he survived, his injuries were so severe that he was unable to care for himself and he spent the remainder of his life – more than 32 years – at Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System in Danville. He died on March 30, 2005, at the age of 54.
VANDALIA – Seeing three people in wheelchairs upon entering Archway Skydiving Center near Vandalia did not make Betty Koerner nervous.
At 86, the rural Sidney woman decided not to let anything deter her from jumping out of an airplane and plummeting to Earth.
CHAMPAIGN – Andrew Hoetker plans to take astronaut Joe Tanner's advice to dream big. But Andrew's dream won't be "out of this world."
"Space travel is cool, but it sounds too uncomfortable for me. I think I'll stay on earth," Andrew, 10, of Champaign, said after meeting Tanner on Sunday morning during the Illinois Parent Teacher Association's 105th Annual Convention at the Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites.
DANVILLE – Neither law enforcement work nor teaching is high on the list of options Carl Alexander is considering after his retirement May 31.
It's a chilly April afternoon, and 13-month-old Bo Porter and his mom are curled up on their living room floor, looking at a picture book in their Urbana home.
Bo reaches up to tug something loose near his neck, and Katey Porter quickly reattaches it.
"It's his favorite toy," she says of the suction piece to the long, skinny tubing that connects her tiny son to the portable ventilator that is always at his side, keeping him breathing.
"All gave some; some gave all."
The sign, on a vehicle from the Canton VFW, said it all in the funeral procession Friday for a soldier killed in Iraq.
CHAMPAIGN – As famous sons go, there may not be a precedent for Jeffrey Jordan.
Mainly because there has never been anyone like his father.
Jordan, a senior guard at Loyola Academy and Michael's son, said this morning he will attend and play basketball at Illinois.
BLACKSBURG, Va. – April 16 started like any other Monday at Virginia Tech and the University of Illinois, before the world learned of a killer named Seung-Hui Cho.
Though the campuses are hundreds of miles apart, family ties would connect them on this day of fear, sadness and horror.