DeKalb Man Charged In NIU Murder

DEKALB, Ill. (STMW) – A Dekalb man who fled to Louisiana and Mexico has been charged in the death of Northern Illinois University freshmen Antinette “Toni” Keller, who vanished earlier this month, DeKalb Police Chief Bill Feithen said Friday night.

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William “Billy’’ P. Curl, 34, was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Covington, La. and extradited back to Dekalb Friday morning. He was charged later in the day with five counts of first degree murder, criminal sexual assault and arson.

“This was a gruesome murder, and we now have charged a man in this horrible crime,” said Feithen. “We believe this was a crime of opportunity.”

antinette keller thumbnail DeKalb Man Charged In NIU Murder


“This was a gruesome murder,’’ Feithen said at a press conference.

Curl is being held in the Dekalb County Jail on $5 million bail. He has a court hearing Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

Keller, 18, an art student from Plainfield, disappeared Oct. 14 after she told friends she was going to Prairie Park south of campus. Badly burned human remains were found in the park two days later near some of her personal belongings.

Feithen described the incident as a “crime of opportunity’’ and said that Curl and the victim happened to be in Prairie Park at the same time. Feithen said Curl sexually assaulted Keller at the time of the murder.

Authorities said Curl, a longtime Dekalb resident, was well-known to police before the incident.

“We had many contacts with him,’’ Feithen said. He would not describe the nature of the contracts.

Contrary to published reports, Curl did not report a fire at the park, Feithen said. Rather, investigators first interviewed Curl because he had been known to frequent the park.

They became more interested in Curl when he failed to show up for a second interview.

Police issued a warrant for his arrest because they believed “he was in possession of material information about the homicide,’’ Feithen said.

Police believe Curl left Illinois Oct. 23. At some point, police alleged, Curl took his mother’s car without her permission, and ended up in Mexico. They said he came back to the U.S. on Monday.

Detectives flew to Louisiana to continue the investigation. They found Curl looking for work as a day laborer in Covington, Feithen said.

Curl was initially arrested Tuesday night in Convington on the warrant, which charged him with obstruction of justice and car theft. Authorities searched his hotel room, although police did not say if anything material was found. Curl waived extradition.

Dekalb County State’s Attorney John Farrell said the “wheels of justice turned for Toni Keller and her family’’ Friday.

“One simply cannot imagine the anguish they have endured the past two weeks,’’ he said. “The family has truly been an inspiration to everyone involved in this investigation.’’

Police are still looking for help from the public and said they are specifically looking for information about Curl’s presence in the park between Oct. 14 and Oct. 18.

“We had many contacts with him,’’ Feithen said. He would not describe the nature of the contracts.

After the murder, Feithen said Curl took his mother’s car without her permission, and headed south. He even crossed into Mexico, but came back to the U.S., authorities alleged. They found him looking for work as a day laborer, Feithen said.

Curl was initially arrested on a warrant charging him with obstruction of justice and car theft.

Keller’s remains were so badly burned officials couldn’t identify her body. But Keller’s belongings were found near the charred remains, leading police to declare her disappearance a “homicide’’ earlier this week.

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