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Charges dropped against 'mastermind' of kidnapping, armed robbery

A judge in Ford County dismissed all charges against a Chicago man whom police described as the "mastermind" behind a December 2013 kidnapping and armed robbery of a Paxton businessman.

It was the prosecution's motion to dismiss the case against 43-year-old Manuel Samano-Santoyo, when he was about to stand trial in Circuit Court.

Special prosecutor Ed Parkinson indicated the prosecution would have had a difficult time proving Samano-Santoyo's involvement.

Samano-Santoyo was the fourth man charged in connection with the December incident. Samano-Santoyo was charged in February with the same offenses as three co-defendants: two counts each of armed robbery, kidnapping, and one count of aggravated battery.

The News-Gazette reported Parkinson said Samano-Santoyo was charged "under a theory of accountability, as the actual evidence in the related cases (against his co-defendants) demonstrate that he was not at the scene of the commission of the crimes ... at any time."

Samano-Santoyo, however, remained at the Ford County Jail following the dismissal of the charges against him. That is because an immigration hold has been placed on Samano-Santoyo, who is an illegal immigrant.

Samano-Santoyo is a relative of one of the other suspects, 22-year-old Eduardo Samano of Berwyn. Also charged are a 25-year-old Paxton resident; and a 25-year-old from Loda. All have pleaded not guilty.

Paxton Police had reported Joel Hastings of rural Paxton was forced into his car, restrained, and beaten with a gun and baseball bat as two Hispanic men drove him around Ford and Iroquois counties.

The two men also robbed Hastings of $300 in cash. They let Hastings leave under the condition he later provide them with $50,000 in cash or "the same value in drugs," according to police accounts.

One defendant was arrested after he was seen retrieving $50,000 in cash that the FBI had placed in a garbage can at the park in Loda on Jan. 15.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

U. S. Rep. Kinzinger schedules traveling office hours

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger's office will hold traveling office hours in Ford, Iroquois and Livingston counties this week.
Office hours will be held in Sibley, Crescent City, Loda, and Forrest.

Staff members will be at Sibley from 11:30 am. to 12:30 pm Thursday, July 24, at the Sullivan Township building.
The Loda visit is from 1 to 2 p.m. Friday, July 25, at the Loda American Legion Hall.

Friday's visit in Crescent City is from 2:30 to 3:30 pm at Crescent City Village Hall.

No appointments are necessary. Kinzinger's staff will be available to assist and provide guidance for constituents on issues ranging from veterans and Social Security benefits to Medicare and immigration issues. Constituents are welcome to come to share their questions and concerns.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Drowning reported in Newton County, Indiana

A 24-year-old man reportedly went missing Saturday evening in a lake at the Willow Slough Fish & Wildlife Area in Newton County, Indiana.

Local emergency response teams and the Indiana Conservation Police are investigating the possible drowning in Murphy Lake.

The Department of Natural Resources reported the man was trying to push a rubber raft to shore when he went under and never resurfaced.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Indiana murder trial date delayed

The trial date for a man accused of murdering his mother and half-sister has been moved again.

22-year-old David Rodenbarger was set to go to trial in October. A motion for continuance was granted and the trial has been moved to May of 2015.

Rodenbarger is charged with murder in connection with the deaths of his mother Michelle Haskins and his 6-year-old half sister Jillian in February 2013.

The White County, Indiana Prosecutor's Office plans to seek a sentence of Life without Parole.

94.1 WGFA

  • Parent Category: News

Kankakee River drowning victim located

The identity of a man's body was yet to be announced after he drowned in the Kankakee River near Wilmington Friday. He was found just before 5 pm Sunday.

The Will County Coroner's Office reported Wilmington Fire personnel confirmed a 33-year-old man was found shortly before 5 p.m. near the Des Plaines Conservation Area boat launch, west of Interstate 55.

Four people were fishing in the river and the victim apparently was swept away by the river's current Friday night near South Island Park in Wilmington.

An autopsy was scheduled.

94.1 WGFA