PC Vandyke murder Butler

Steven Wayne Butler III

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URBANA — A Champaign man is in police custody in the apparent beating death of a 14-year-old boy whose body was found Friday morning in a roadside ditch east of Urbana.

Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz said Daryl Vandyke, 55, an acquaintance of the child’s father, has been charged with the first-degree murder of Steven Wayne Butler III.

He’s being held in lieu of $2 million bond and is expected to make his first court appearance Monday.

The teen was reported missing to Champaign police about 7:30 p.m. Thursday by his father, who said it was out of character for him not to stay in touch with him.

Steven had left the family home in the 900 block of Harvard Street about 5 p.m., didn’t return his dad’s calls and could not be found.

Two cyclists found his body just before 7 a.m. Friday in a ditch on the north side of the 3400 block of East Washington Street, about a quarter-mile east of High Cross Road. Authorities immediately recognized him as the missing youth.

Rietz said Vandyke was arrested at his home in the 500 block of North Russell Street in Champaign just before 11 a.m. Friday. He declined to speak with police.

The boy was the victim of blunt-force injuries, Rietz said. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

A Facebook post made Thursday by the boy’s father said that he had left his home to mow a lawn but didn’t return.

“His phone was shut off. He has never just stayed gone. He never leaves for more than an hour at most. He left his money and didn’t have anything other than his phone. Please help!! He doesn’t know anyone here. No friends. He left to mow a yard and the guy said he came and mowed. That’s the last he was seen or heard from. God please bring my son home,” the post read.

The boy’s image had also been posted on the Missing Persons Awareness Network, which listed several photos of him.

Authorities said Vandyke also had a warrant for his arrest from Douglas County for contempt of court. He was initially taken into custody on that until Rietz could obtain a warrant for murder.

Detectives from Champaign police and the Champaign County Sheriff's Office are being assisted by the Illinois State Police in the ongoing investigation.

Reporter

Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is mschenk@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).

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