State Briefs 5/9/08

Cops hang out at Dunkin’ Donuts – for a good cause

LOVES PARK — It was a rather ironic sight for anyone who holds stereotypes about cops: these weren’t sitting inside the doughnut shop, but standing on top of it.

“Regardless of the stereotype, it’s for a good cause,” said senior Winnebago County sheriff’s deputy Greg Leombruni, perched Friday atop a Dunkin’ Donuts in full police attire.

Sheriff’s deputies and officers from the Rockford and Park District Police Departments used their visibility to raise money for the Special Olympics. The Sheriff’s Department and Park District police raised nearly $1,500 in this unusual fundraising effort last year, and hoped to top that amount Friday, community service officer Lisa Hodges said.

Cop-on-a-Rooftop is one of several other events throughout the year that benefit Special Olympics competitions in Illinois.

“By putting him on the roof, we hope that we’re drawing attention,” she said. “We want people to come and see our banner, and come in and support the Special Olympics.”

At 7 a.m., Hodges and Leombruni weren’t having much trouble. Customers would slow while heading into the store’s drive-through to let Hodges collect their cash.

Others, armed with boxes of doughnuts, pushed wadded bills into Hodges’ collection box on their way out the door.

Rockford Register Star

Ottawa tips its hat to Lincoln

OTTAWA — The city is tipping its hat to the 150th anniversary of the Abraham Lincoln-Stephen Douglas debate that made Ottawa famous.

“We’re scattering 40-50 painted fiberglass versions of Abe’s stovepipe hat throughout the Old Town District,” said Bridget O’Brien, executive director of the Ottawa Visitors Center. “Local and professional artists have been commissioned to paint and decorate the hats so they’re beautifully done.”

The Ottawa Visitors Center is celebrating the historic debate — which took place Aug. 21, 1858, and was the first between the two men — for six months, as the hats will be on display through Oct. 31. The artwork will also be the focal point for a number of monthly contests geared towards getting people to view all the hats.

At the end of October, 12 hats will be auctioned off, with proceeds benefiting Ottawa’s mural program, called “A Brush With History.” Sponsors have already purchased the other hats to offset the costs for the event.

The large hats, which cost $1,600, are about 5 feet in diameter and 4 feet tall, while the small hats, which cost $350, are about 2 feet in diameter and 2 feet tall.

Journal Star, Peoria

Mother and son robbed while mushroom hunting

PEORIA - A mother and son were robbed at gunpoint Wednesday as they hunted for morel mushrooms in a wooded area near Kingspark Estates.

Under the canopy of trees, they were approached about 7 p.m. by two males, one who asked for a cigarette.

When the 29-year-old son told the man they didn't have any, the man lunged at the son and his mother, 47, and struck them both on the head, police reports stated. The man then pulled out a gun and hit the son on the side of the face with it.

The second man turned his attention towards the mother. He used an unknown weapon to inflict a three-inch cut to her hand, then stole her cigarette case, which held her cigarettes and driver's license.

After the robbery, the men fled through the woods.

Both the mother, who also suffered a wound to the back of her head, and son were taken to Methodist Medical Center and released after treatment of their injuries.

Journal Star, Peoria

Sister of Drew Peterson’s third wife testifies to grand jury

JOLIET – The sister of Drew Peterson’s deceased third wife testified Thursday before the grand jury investigating that death and the disappearance of Peterson’s fourth wife Stacy.

Susan Doman, sister of Kathleen Savio, declined to comment on the details of her testimony but said her family is still reeling from her sister's death four years ago.

"Our family hasn't been the same since," Doman said. "She was the one that kept the family together."

Doman said Thursday was her first appearance before the grand jury and that no other family member has testified. Just before Doman testified, the grand jury heard from Steve Maniaci, who was dating Savio at the time of her death, Doman said.

Lisa Ward, daughter of Drew Peterson's second wife Vicki Connolly, also testified Thursday but declined comment as she left the Will County Court Annex building in Joliet.

Ward previously told Fox News Channel's Greta Van Susteren that Peterson had threatened to kill her mother and that he had the home's phones tapped.

Connolly appeared before the grand jury April 3 but declined to comment on her testimony. She and Peterson were married for 10 years, starting in 1982. The two divorced when Connolly found out Peterson was having an affair with Savio.

Suburban Life Publications

Juvenile charged in arson that sent two to hospital

GALESBURG – A juvenile is charged with aggravated arson in connection with a Thursday morning house fire on the city’s northeast side that sent two people to the hospital.

The juvenile was charged at 2:55 p.m. Thursday with one count of aggravated arson, a Class X felony offense. The juvenile is being held in the Mary Davis Home. No other details about the arrest, possible motive or any pending charges were available at press time.

According to police reports, the fire was suspicious due to two ignition sources — one in an upstairs bedroom and one in a basement family room.

Residents Arla J. Newland, 57, and Debra K. Newland, 52, were taken by ambulance to OSF St. Mary Medical Center for treatment of smoke inhalation and later released. 

The Newlands’ granddaughters, who live in the home, had already gotten on the school bus by the time the Newlands discovered the fire.

Galesburg Register-Mail

Man killed in rollover crash

JACKSONVILLE – An 81-year-old Jacksonville man died today following a rollover crash on Mound Avenue in Jacksonville, authorities said.

Gilbert H. Todd was pronounced dead about 1:10 p.m. in the emergency room at Passavant Area Hospital. He reportedly sustained severe injuries in the crash, a press release from Morgan County Coroner Jeff Lair said.

The crash occurred about 11:45 a.m. as Todd was heading west and went off the side of the road. His vehicle then struck a concrete embankment and a metal culvert, which caused it to overturn. The vehicle overturned again, struck a tree and came to rest on its top, Jacksonville police said.

A medical condition may have contributed to the crash, Lair's press release said.

State Journal-Register