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Champaign man gets 40-year sentence for killing teenage boy

3400 block of E. Washington Street in Urbana where bicyclists discovered the body of Steven Butler III lying in a ditch.
Picture of Steven Butler, III of Champaign – picture posted to Missing Persons Awareness Network Facebook page.

URBANA — A central Illinois man has been sentenced to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty to killing a 14-year-old boy and dumping his body in a roadside ditch.

A judge sentenced Daryl Vandyke, 57, on Wednesday after the of Champaign man admitted that he used an ax or other sharp-edged garden tool to kill Steven Butler III, 14, in July 2021.

Vandyke pleaded guilty to a single count of first-degree murder, WCCU-TV reported. In exchange, several other first-degree murder counts and other charges were dismissed.

Daryl Vandyke booking photo from Champaign County Correctional Center

Vandyke’s plea agreement spared him a possible sentence of life in prison without parole. But he must serve the entire 40-year sentence, meaning he won’t be eligible for parole until age 95, The (Champaign) News-Gazette reported.

Butler’s father reported him missing to police on the night of July 29, 2021, hours after he left the family home, purportedly to mow a lawn. His body was found by two cyclists the next day in a roadside ditch near Urbana.

Troy Lozar, Champaign County’s First Assistant State’s Attorney, said that after killing the teen, Vandyke cleaned him up and took his body east of Urbana, where he dumped it along a road to make his death look like a traffic fatality.

Picture of Associated Press

Associated Press

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