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‘He Was Loved,’ Teenager Allegedly Beaten To Death By His Middle Aged Neighbor

Darryl Vandyke is accused of beating Steven Butler III, a boy known for mowing his neighbor's lawns, to death.

By Gina Tron
Daryl Vandyke Pd

A middle-aged Illinois man is accused of beating his teenage neighbor to death. 

Steven Butler III, 14, was reported missing by his father on Thursday evening a few hours after he left his family’s home to mow a lawn. Early Friday morning, two bicyclists found human remains in a roadside ditch in Champaign, a press release from the Champaign Police states. The body was later identified as the missing teen. It’s believed he died of blunt force trauma, according to local outlet News-Gazette.

“Through a joint investigation by the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office and the Champaign Police Department, a person of interest was identified,” police stated.

They quickly zeroed in on Butler’s 55-year-old neighbor Darryl Vandyke, who had an outstanding warrant for contempt of court. He was arrested hours after Butler’s body was found.

Police also obtained a search warrant for a private residence, which they believe is a potential crime scene. The press release states that “additional evidence was recovered from the property.”

Daryl Vandyke Pd

Vandyke now faces a first-degree murder charge for Butler’s death. His bond wsa set at 2 million. It’s not clear if he has a lawyer.

A motive for the alleged murder has not been disclosed. 

Vandyke lived in the teen’s neighborhood and was an acquaintance of Butler's father, the News-Gazette reports. Vandyke has a criminal record stretching back to 1986, including an allegation of sexual abuse.

“Steven was a young boy mowing lawns for neighbors for his summer,” the Missing Person Awareness Network wrote in a post. “He was loved by his family, and many hearts are broken for Steven and his family.”

Before his son was found dead, his father put out a desperate plea for him to be found on Facebook.

“His phone was shut off," he wrote on Thursday, according to the News-Gazette. "He has never just stayed gone. He never leaves for more than an hour at most. He left his money and didn’t have anything other than his phone. Please help!! He doesn’t know anyone here. No friends. He left to mow a yard and the guy said he came and mowed. That’s the last he was seen or heard from. God please bring my son home."

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