NIU killing suspect gave conflicting stories, prosecutor says
BY DAN ROZEK Sun-Times Media May 1, 2012
William "Billy" P. Curl, 34, of DeKalb, is charged with murder, sexual assault and arson in the death of 18-year-old Antinette "Toni" Keller of Plainfield.
Updated: June 3, 2012 8:16AM
The DeKalb man charged with killing Antinette “Toni” Keller, a Northern Illinois University student from Plainfield, told police that Keller died of an apparent seizure during a drug-fueled sexual encounter, prosecutors disclosed Tuesday.
But William “Billy” Curl made that claim only after first refusing to say anything and then telling investigators he found the 18-year-old art student dead in a DeKalb park in the fall of 2010, then panicked and burned her body after some of her blood stained his clothes and shoes, DeKalb County prosecutor Phil Montgomery said.
Prosecutors revealed Curl’s differing accounts during a pretrial hearing.
Keller, an NIU freshman, disappeared on Oct. 14, 2010, after telling friends she planned to go to Prairie Park, a sprawling area south of the school’s DeKalb campus.
Searchers found badly burnt human remains two days later in the park, with some of Keller’s personal belongings nearby. It took DNA testing to confirm her identity.
Curl, now 36, was charged about two weeks later, after fleeing first to Mexico and then to Louisiana following initial questioning by police.
Curl is set to go on trial June 11 on charges of first-degree murder, criminal sexual assault and arson.
Some of the conflicting statements that Montgomery outlined during a pretrial hearing Tuesday are likely to be used as evidence at Curl’s trial.
Montgomery said Curl first refused to talk to police, then told investigators he found Keller dead in Prairie Park and tried to move her body, but, after getting her blood on his hands, clothes and shoes, “freaked out” and burned her body.
Curl later gave a different statement, Montgomery said, telling investigators he found Keller taking the drug Ecstasy in the park and then had consensual sex with her, during which Keller abruptly died.
DeKalb County State’s Attorney Clay Campbell declined to comment after the hearing, as did Curl’s attorney, DeKalb County Public Defender Regina Harris.