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Deny request to expunge record in murder : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Deny request to expunge record in murder
Carbondale man was arrested in '70 slaying, but later acquitted

by Tony Scott


A Kendall County judge has denied a downstate man's request to expunge his arrest for the 1970 murder of his girlfriend, of which he was acquitted.

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 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 had petitioned Kendall County courts to expunge his arrest, stating through his attorney that he had led a productive life.

Beebe's attorney, Daniel Orloski of Carbondale, stated in court records 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."

Orloski's 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."

However, Kendall County prosecutors argued that expunging Beebe's record "would necessarily prevent any future prosecution" of Armbrust's killer.

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.'"

In an order filed Jan. 30, Judge Timothy J. McCann denied Beebe's petition for expungement.

"I considered the state's reasons for wishing to retain the records," McCann wrote. "The statute of limitations in this case has not expired, and will never expire. Although it may be unlikely, it is possible that another person could be charged with Ms. Armbrust's murder."

McCann continued, "I have considered the length of time that has elapsed between (Beebe's) arrest and the filing of the petition to expunge. This petition was brought more than 42 years after (Beebe) was acquitted. The passage of this amount of time tells me that (Beebe's) life has not been significantly impacted by his charge and subsequent acquittal. I heard (Beebe's) testimony that he feared his prior arrest could become an issue in the future if the military conducted background checks. However, that testimony was speculative at best and no evidence of actual harm suffered was presented."

McCann wrote that the murder "was a serious crime" and that Beebe's "life will not be significantly impacted by my denial of the petition."

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