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Former murder suspect wants record cleared : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Former murder suspect wants record cleared
Carbondale man was acquitted in 1970 slaying of Lockport woman

by Tony Scott


A downstate Illinois man wants a Kendall County judge to clear his arrest record, 43 years after he was acquitted of his girlfriend's murder, but county prosecutors are fighting the request.

Thomas Beebe, 63, who now resides in Carbondale, Ill., was arrested in December of 1970 in connection with the shooting death of Sherry Lynn Armbrust, 18, of Lockport. He was acquitted by Kendall County Judge Charles G. Seidel in a bench trial in June of 1971.

Armbrust was reported missing by her father after she didn't come home the night of Oct. 20, 1970, after attending classes at Joliet Junior College, according to an archived article in the Oswego Ledger, a predecessor of the Ledger-Sentinel.

Her body was found Nov. 1 of that year in a Kendall County forest preserve in unincorporated Seward Township, according to Kendall County Record archives. She had been shot in the head, chest and left thigh, according to the Record archives.

Beebe is now seeking to expunge his arrest record. A hearing on the issue is set for Jan. 13 at 9 a.m. at the Kendall County Courthouse in Yorkville in front of Judge Timothy J. McCann.

According to a court document filed in September by Kendall County First Assistant State's Attorney Nemura G. Pencyla, the "murder investigation is still considered open and unsolved, given the court's decision in 1971."

Prosecutors are objecting to the expungement of Beebe's arrest record in part because "expungement of the reports, etc. would necessarily prevent any future prosecution for" Armbrust's murder, according to court records.

Pencyla further states, "(Prosecutors) believe the following factors require denial of (Beebe's) petition: significant and substantial evidence was presented at the trial that tended to show defendant's guilt; there existed substantially more evidence than mere probable cause to prosecute (Beebe); retention of (Beebe's) records would be wise, given the facts and circumstances of the charged crime; (Beebe's) employment has not been affected by the charge; no evidence has been presented by (Beebe) of any other adverse effect; the crime charged was a violent crime and a forcible felony, by definition."

However, a court document filed by Beebe's attorney, Daniel Orloski of Carbondale, states that a "look at the entire transcript of the trial will reveal that Judge Seidel heard from many witnesses and reached the only verdict possible, that (Beebe) was not guilty of the murder he was charged with and that the case put forth by the state was weak at best. Obviously if the state disagreed with the verdict they could have appealed but no such appeal was pursued."

The document also states that Beebe "continues to proclaim his innocence of the charge of murder. Since the verdict of not guilty was entered, Mr. Beebe has served his country honorably through military service in the Navy, has been an active member of his church, and has raised three children."

An article in the July 1, 1971 issue of the Kendall County Record says Seidel made statements regarding Beebe's innocence when he found him not guilty.

"Judge Seidel said he found the defendant innocent because 'proof was short.' He added that he did not exonerate Beebe from suspicion of the crime, but, he said, 'Proof does not show he was present when the girl was killed except by suspicion.' He termed the proceedings a 'distasteful case.'"

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