If you've been following the in-and-outs of the 1986 Edgar County murders of Dyke and Karen Rhoads, a 7 p.m. Thursday (Sept. 17) presentation at the Champaign Public Library is right up your alley.
Mike Callahan, a retired Illinois State Police lieutenant and author of "Too Politically Sensitive," will give a power-point presentation about his re-investigation of the case and explain why he eventually concluded that two Paris men were falsely convicted for the murders.
The original prosecution was based on the testimony of two purported eyewitnesses as well as physical evidence, including a knife allegedly used to repeatedly stab the couple.
But evidence would indicate that neither witness was actually present at the crime scene, and the physical evidence was effectively repudiated. Callahan will explain why.
The convictions of the two men, Randy Steidl and Herbert Whitlock, were subsequently overturned on appeal, and they have been released from prison. They both have filed federal lawsuits alleging that police and prosecutors conspired to falsely convict them. That case is tentatively scheduled to go to trial next summer at the U.S. Courthouse in Urbana
Both men, however, served roughly 20 years in prison.
On a personal note, I have written numerous articles about the controversial case and will be joining Callahan in his presentation. A Q&A session.will follow.
Callahan has both a personal and professional story to tell..
Assigned by his superiors to take a second look at the case, Callahan ran into considerable bureaucratic obstacles after he informed superiors that there were serious evidentiary problems with the original convictions and that two innocent men might be behind bars.
Callahan will discuss the murders, the evidentiary issues and mistakes by the original investigators that raise serious questions about their real intentions in solving this case. He also will go into considerable detail about his own problems in pursuing the matter, a battle that eventually ended with his reassignment to patrol and the end of his 20 year-plus law enforcement.
This is a story of murder and cover-up. It's long, complicated, endlessly fascinating and, ultimately, tragic. The murders remain unsolved, and two men spent years in prison for a crime the evidence shows they did not commit.