Kidnapped OP girl found unharmed

What could have been the most heartbreaking story of 2007 turned out to be one of the most heart warming. Linnea Miller was abducted from a sandbox in her backyard Saturday, July 1. After her father reported her missing around 12:15 p.m., more than 20 Oak Park police officers, assisted by Cook County K-9 units, fire department personnel and dozens of neighbors canvassed the area around the Miller’s home.

Linnea was found alone and unharmed on the city’s far Northwest Side around 2 p.m. She told investigators she was playing in her sandbox when a man walked up, said he “knew her mommy and daddy” and told her he’d “teach her something” if she went with him.

The man later pulled his car over near Harlem and Belmont, pointed to a postman and told Linnea to “go tell that postal worker that we’re lost.” He drove off when she got out.

She was reunited with her joyous parents and family 30 minutes later.

Adkins guilty in McAvinchey murder

A jury took barely an hour March 22 to convict Rodney Adkins, 43, of the murder of Catherine McAvinchey during the burglary of her Washington Boulevard condo. The prosecution presented a table full of evidence against Adkins. But it was a riveting videotaped confession by Adkins himself that sealed his fate.

On Aug. 7, eight days after the fourth anniversary of McAvinchey’s murder, Adkins was sentenced to death. A career burglar and drug addict who has spent 22 of his 26 adult years behind bars, Adkins is now on Death Row at the Pontiac Correctional Center. Earlier this month a judge rejected the first of what will likely be numerous appeals by Adkins.

Gang banger murdered on Division Street

Alleged Chicago gang member Clarence Haven Fambro, Jr., 23, of the 5500 block of West Fulton Street, Chicago, was pronounced dead at the scene after being found shot in the back, lying in Division Street just east of Cuyler Avenue, shortly before 3 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12.

Oak Park police identified Fambro as an active street gang member, with 17 arrests and 24 convictions, most for drug and weapons violations, who was on parole after serving one year on a three year sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Police said the killing was a “spillover” incident from events that began in Chicago.

Fambro’s death was the latest in a series of violent episodes stemming from an ongoing dispute between two Chicago street gangs. Two Oak Park and River Forest High School students were shot and a 17 year old Austin resident killed outside a house party near Long Avenue and Iowa Street in Austin shortly after midnight Sept. 7.

Daylight assaults put neighborhood on edge

Tensions heightened over the summer in the wake of several unprovoked daylight street attacks around the 100 and 200 blocks of South Ridgeland Avenue in late July in which two men were injured.

A 56-year-old man suffered a head wound that required nine stitches following an attack by three boys as he washed his car in an alley behind the 200 block of South Ridgeland Avenue July 22. Three days later a man was walking westbound on Pleasant Street just east of the 200 block of Ridgeland when three boys estimated to be 15 to 17 years old ran out of an alley and attacked him. He suffered a hard blow to the side of his head that left him with a black eye and a knot on his forehead.

A third daylight street assault, a robbery, occurred the afternoon of July 23 several blocks west on Pleasant near Oak Park Avenue. Wayne L. Ervin, 17, was arrested with three Oak Park juveniles after the four were identified as the group that allegedly walked up behind a woman walking eastbound on Pleasant Street near Grove Avenue around 2:30 p.m., struck her in the back of the neck and then stole her purse. Ervin, of the 1100 block of South Oak Park Avenue, who was out on bond after being charged with a May 22 home invasion and armed robbery in Oak Park, is still being held in Cook County Jail on no bond.

Former Brooks teacher sentenced for sexual assault

Former Brooks Middle School music teacher Edward Bell was sentenced to nine years in prison in January for his admitted criminal sexual assault involving a then-13-year-old girl. Due to the predatory nature of Bell’s crime and his position as a teacher, Bell must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence. He’s currently incarcerated at the Centralia Correctional Facility, with a projected parole date of August, 2014.

Mani Adams sentenced

Former Oak Park police officer Mani Adams, who was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for his role in a botched December, 2004 truck hijacking, reported to prison Jan. 22. He’s currently at a minimum security prison camp in Duluth, Minnesota.

RF man convicted in bogus insurance scheme

Bogus River Forest insurance broker Richard Brooks, 52, was sentenced to 7-plus years in prison in January after pleading guilty to nine counts of theft over $100,000, all Class 1 felonies, and a single count of mail fraud. The nine theft cases alone account for $2.9 million in fraud. The Illinois Attorney General’s office said Brooks defrauded 203 outdoor amusement vendors in 22 states and Puerto Rico out of millions dollars in insurance premiums.

Man gets 15 years in OP Arms stabbing

A Chicago man who repeatedly stabbed an employee of the Oak Park Arms Senior Center in 2005 was sentenced to 15 years in prison in January. Stanley Van Zant, 24, was convicted of armed violence and attempted murder after admitting he stabbed his former girlfriend, 26-year-old Patrice Perry, 18 times after she told him that she wanted to break off their relationship. He’s currently at the Dixon Correctional Center.

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