Son named in murders of parents
DANVILLE – Danville police on Wednesday morning named Gary Myers as a suspect in the beating deaths of his parents. He is the only suspect at this time, they said.
"Through the investigations conducted by Danville detectives, and in cooperation with the Illinois State Police and Champaign County authorities, the focus was narrowed within the last 24 hours," Danville police detective Larry Thomason said.
Thomason added that the case still remains under investigation. Police were not releasing any further details.
Gary Myers died after slashing his throat at the scene of a deadly collision on Interstate 74 near St. Joseph, which authorities say he caused. An autopsy showed his preliminary cause of death to be cuts to the neck, according to Champaign County Chief Deputy Coroner Bill Fabian.
The bodies of 74-year-old Donald W. Myers and 69-year-old Shirley Myers were found in their home at 406 Dennis Drive, on Danville's north side, several hours after their son died. However, Vermilion County Coroner Peggy Johnson has said she believes they may have died on Saturday based on their conditions and evidence.
Johnson said an autopsy showed the couple died of multiple blunt force trauma to the head as the result of an assault.
Inquests for all three deaths will be held at a later date.
The Illinois State Police and Champaign County coroner's office are still investigating Gary Myers' suicide and the collision, which killed a motorist – 24-year-old Seth Meiller of Lutherville, Md.
State police said that at about 5:10 p.m. Monday, a pickup truck heading west on the interstate, driven by Gary Myers, hit a Subaru station wagon, driven by Mr. Meiller, when Mr. Meiller tried to pass him. The truck then forced the station wagon into the median and into the eastbound lane of traffic, where it was struck by a semitrailer truck.
Authorities said Mr. Meiller died instantly from massive head injuries. His sister and passenger, Jessica, was taken to the hospital and later released.
Immediately following the collision, authorities said, Gary Myers slashed his throat in front of a number of people, who had stopped due to the accident. He was airlifted to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, where he was declared dead on arrival.
Meanwhile, Danville police and the Vermilion County coroner's office continue to investigate the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Myers, whose bodies were found as a result of their son's death.
When a coroner's deputy went to their home to notify them, he could not get a response and took steps to notify other family members.
A younger son, who lives in Indiana, became concerned by that, went to their house and discovered their bodies inside.
Gary Myers had a long and violent criminal history, which included serving 12 years in an Ohio prison for robbing and nearly beating an elderly man to death.
He also served five years in an Illinois prison for stabbing a man in the leg; and served probation for trying to run down a then-girlfriend with a car.
He was charged with shooting a man to death with a shotgun in a 1979 case, but was acquitted by a jury.
And he was the only suspect in the beating death of an Oakwood woman, but he was never charged.
Danville police Lt. Doug Miller said local authorities have gotten a number of leads from people who knew Gary Myers or his parents.
"The leads we've gotten from everybody – neighbors, family members, the general public – have been very helpful," he said. "But when you're dealing with a lot of people who can't answer your questions, a possible suspect who can't answer your questions or talk to you – it makes it difficult to follow up on some of your leads."
Miller said authorities are using the information they have gotten to try to establish a time line of Gary Myers' actions leading to the discovery of his parents' bodies.
"On a case where we may have a suspect, we try to establish a time line – where he was at, where he stayed, what he's done, who he's been with, who he's been in contact with, or any other activities he may have been involved in," Miller explained. "And that's in any case where we have a suspect."
You can reach Noelle McGee at (217) 443-8487 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.