UPDATE: Police say crime spree involved murder, robbery, chase

UPDATE: Police say crime spree involved murder, robbery, chase

CHAMPAIGN — A Champaign man accused of killing a relative in her apartment and robbing a Champaign store is in police custody after a dramatic series of events that unfolded early Friday.

Court records show that Richard Owen Stover, 41, has a violent drug-addicted past for which he spent more than a decade in prison. He was convicted of robbing his own grandfather 20 years ago to get money to buy cocaine.

Champaign police Lt. Nate Rath said a knife-wielding Stover was arrested in the parking lot of Mahomet-Seymour High School about 11 a.m. Friday after a Champaign County sheriff’s deputy shot him with a Taser. Another deputy had fired a gun at him earlier but missed.

Late Friday evening, Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup identified the dead woman as Betty J. Stover, 60. He said she was pronounced dead at 2:22 p.m. at her home in the 1800 block of 1800 block of Sangamon Drive. An autopsy has been scheduled for Saturday. Police would not discuss Stover’s relationship to her, but the Champaign County Jail lists Stover’s address as the same one where police found her body.

Police are also not saying when they think she was killed.

Stover’s arrest was the culmination of a series of crimes that police first learned about shortly before 2 a.m. when the Walgreens at 1713 W. Springfield Ave., C, was robbed.

Rath said a man who implied he had a gun demanded cash from a clerk and fled with money.

"Later in the morning, we found a car in the 1800 block of Sangamon Drive which matched the description of the car from the robbery. We set up surveillance and just before 7 a.m. saw a man come back to that car," Rath said. "Our officers pulled up to block him in, to keep him from leaving. He rammed an occupied squad car several times and took off."

The male officer inside the squad car was not hurt.

That launched a pursuit on the west side of Champaign that lasted about 10 minutes on city streets before police supervisors ordered it terminated because of the danger to other vehicles on the road.

"Then, at 10 a.m., based on information we received, we were directed back to the house in the 1800 block of Sangamon for a check-welfare call," Rath said.

That’s when police discovered the deceased woman. Rath said police are not certain how long she may have been there. He declined to give any information about the manner of her death.

About a half-hour later, Champaign County sheriff's deputies spotted Stover in a car near Cardinal and Rising roads west of Champaign. They tried to stop him, but he sped off to the north and west.

Rath said at some point in the pursuit, a deputy fired his gun at Stover but did not hit him.

Sheriff Dan Walsh said a multijurisdictional team of detectives is investigating that portion of the shooting, as always happens when a deputy fires his gun at a person.

The chase of Stover by deputies and Champaign police officers continued into Mahomet, where officers from the village also joined in.

"He gets out of his car in the 500 block of North Division and flees. Several minutes later, he was located outside the high school and was displaying a knife and refusing to put it down," Rath said.

That's when a sheriff's deputy used a Taser on Stover. He was taken to the hospital to be checked out, then later released to Champaign police.

Rath said Stover was arrested on preliminary charges of first-degree murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated fleeing and eluding a police officer.

Court records show Stover was released from prison in 2016 after serving 11 years of a 20-year sentence he received in May 2005 for aggravated robbery.

In that case, he pleaded guilty to a Jan. 30, 2005, holdup in which he told the clerk at the Colonial Pantry, 211 W. University Ave., C, that if he valued his life, he would hand over cash.

Although Stover said he had a gun, the clerk never saw one. The clerk hit a silent alarm that resulted in Stover’s arrest soon after he fled the business with cash.

Judge Tom Difanis sentenced Stover to 20 years in prison, calling him "dangerous."

Stover had been out of prison for a conviction of aggravated criminal sexual abuse for only a couple of months at the time of the holdup. That crime happened with a girl between the ages of 13 and 18 in January 1999. He had been sentenced to six years in prison for that.

And the sex conviction came after one for armed robbery that netted Stover a six-year prison sentence in December 1997.

Stover pleaded guilty to holding a pair of scissors to his 77-year-old grandfather’s throat in September 1997 and demanding his wallet, from which he took $34 to buy crack cocaine.

That conviction was his first as an adult.

When he was sentenced in 2005 for the Colonial Pantry holdup, his attorney told Difanis that Stover had been addicted to crack cocaine since the age of 17.

State's Attorney Julia Rietz said Stover and a woman were arrested Sept. 4 of this year by sheriff's deputies on preliminary charges of battery at her home in Mahomet.

Rietz said her office declined to charge either of them "because their injuries were consistent with mutual combat."

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Beem wrote on December 29, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Thanks for updating.

jparks wrote on December 30, 2017 at 9:12 am

"Court records show Stover was released from prison in 2016 after serving 11 years of a 20-year sentence he received in May 2005 for aggravated robbery."

Betty J. Stover would be alive today if Richard Stover had still been serving the 20 year sentence he received in 2005.

BruckJr wrote on December 30, 2017 at 11:12 am

Not to mention the battery from four months ago that Reitz chose not to prosecute.

map89 wrote on December 30, 2017 at 9:12 am

I was thinking the same thing.  That poor woman.  He needs to go away forever!

cantankerous1 wrote on December 30, 2017 at 9:12 am

Good thing for him he did these crimes in Champaign. Like always they will drop the most serious charges, let him plead to something light, he'll go away for a short time and be back on our streets. And the prosecuting authorities have win in their column and might even think they did their job. Remember people, in Champaign county , you might as well do a major crime if you do any crime since they always drop the larger charges if you plead to the lesser ones.  It makes their win/loss record look good even though the people pay the price.

rsp wrote on December 30, 2017 at 10:12 am

Good thing he committed those crimes in Champaign because the Illinois prison system mysteriously treats everyone from Champaign differently than inmates from anywhere else. Special privilages, early outs, big screen tvs, etc. People from Champaign are just dying to get in, must by why the high shooting rate. Because it's all about wins and losses!

Even the "former cop" lets him off the hook! He's not to blame, the system is to blame. "He should have been locked up". Let me just say I'm glad he's not one of our cops.

Stover is responsible for his actions. If he killed her, it's on him. He's had multiple opportunities to change.

burl55 wrote on December 31, 2017 at 5:12 am

In the last 20 years he has been sentenced to serve a total of 32 years on 3 different occasions? His mother would still be alive and his girlfriend would’ve been spared some beatings if violent criminals were made to serve 100% of each sentence they receive. DUI, sexual assault and murder are treated as bathroom humor with Julia, the Judges and Julia’s “select” group of lawyers. Oh well, we re-elected her so when some person from a well to do southwestern Champaign area gets whacked or their kid raped. Maybe the voters will wake up and realize what is really going on at the courthouse? No way.

rsp wrote on January 02, 2018 at 10:01 am

I'm amazed that you think Reitz and the local judges run the state prison system. The system they have to work with has rules made by the state legislator and signed off on by the Govenor. It's covered by the US Constitution and the Illinois Constitution, so you know, legal rights.

Maybe you could complain about those people for a change.