Former McLean County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen has pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge, admitting he defrauded a Chicago consulting firm of nearly $500,000.  Sorensen entered the plea during a short hearing in Chicago federal court. 

A man suspected of multiple stabbings in central Illinois in August 2015 has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.  36-year-old Jason Hopkins sat at a table in a courtroom Tuesday but didn't participate in the hearing. The state and his lawyer agreed that he was too severely mentally ill to grasp the criminal nature of his actions.

Woodford County Jail

EUREKA, Ill. (AP) - A Bloomington high school teacher has been charged with first-degree murder in her husband's stabbing death.

Bond is $1 million for 30-year-old Sarah Mellor of Bloomington, who teaches Spanish at Bloomington High School. Prosecutors say 31-year-old Mark Mellor of Bloomington was stabbed late Saturday during an argument with his wife at a private campsite in rural Woodford County. Sarah Mellor remains jailed at the Woodford County jail in Eureka.

 Prosecutors say relatives drove Mark Mellor from the campsite to a hospital where he was pronounced dead at 12:15 a.m. Sunday. The McLean County coroner said preliminary autopsy results found he died from a stab wound to the chest.

A Bloomington man running for Congress has successfully sued to keep his name on the ballot.

David Gill is running as an independent, and failed to file the number of valid signatures required by Illinois law.

That number is much higher than it would be if he were running as a Democrat or Republican, and a federal judge on Thursday ruled that Gill must remain on the ballot.

A Bloomington physician running for Congress as an independent candidate has filed a lawsuit challenging the signature requirement.  

David Gill is seeking a U.S. House seat in the 13th District, which covers an area from central Illinois to near St. Louis.   

State election officials found Gill fell short of the 10,754 required valid signatures as an independent. His lawsuit filed this week alleges "severe and overly burdensome" signature requirements for independents. Democrats and Republicans need fewer than 740 signatures.  

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - A mental health evaluation has been ordered for a central Illinois man who is charged with murder in his parents' stabbing deaths.

Springfield psychiatrist Dr. Terry Killian was appointed to examine 25-year-old Brian Petersen of Bloomington to determine if he is mentally fit to stand trial. A judge set Petersen's bond at $6 million Monday after he was charged in the deaths of his mother, 63-year-old Nancy Petersen, and his father, 68-year-old Bruce Petersen.

Illinois State University

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - A father and son from Chicago have been charged in connection with the alleged sexual assault of a woman visiting Illinois State University during orientation for incoming students.

19-year-old Shawn Childs Jr. is charged with four counts of criminal sexual assault. Shawn Childs Sr. is charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver for allegedly putting ecstasy in the woman's soda during the alleged incident Tuesday.

 McLean County Assistant State's Attorney Adam Ghrist said Thursday when the alleged victim went to her room after feeling ill, she was followed by Childs Jr. and sexually assaulted. She reported the attack the following morning.

Todd Ryburn / Flickr/Creative Commons

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - A new Lincoln exhibit at the McLean County Museum of History explores the 16th president's earlier life as a lawyer and his political activity in Bloomington.

 The exhibit opening May 21 examines Lincoln's work as an attorney in McLean County and the Illinois Eighth Judicial Circuit. 

walter_bean / Flickr/Creative Commons

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - Veterinarians in central Illinois say canine influenza has sickened dozens of dogs in the Bloomington and Normal area over the past few days. 

Veterinarians are urging dog owners to keep their animals away from other dogs and take their dogs to the veterinarian if they show symptoms.

 Dr. Kirsten Pieper of the Animal Emergency Clinic of McLean County says the most important thing pet owners can do is keep their dogs at home until the outbreak is under control. 

Taaalia / Flickr/Creative Commons

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - Active and retired firefighters in central Illinois are working to locate and honor the graves of 75 firefighters. 

Bob Willis and others combed Evergreen Cemetery in Bloomington on Saturday and marked the location of certain graves with a GPS device. Willis, a retired Bloomington firefighter, recently took over project started by the Bloomington-Normal Firefighter Club 25 years ago. He is working to update grave locations at several cemeteries in the area.

The Illinois Supreme Court says the case against a shoplifter who lived in Normal is absurd, illogical and unjust.  

Jesse Bradford was arrested in 2012 for stealing two DVDs, a hat, shoes and a bottle of Dr. Pepper from a Walmart in Bloomington. He was convicted of burglary,  a felony that carries three to seven years in prison.

U.S. Cellular Coliseum

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - The city of Bloomington has chosen an Iowa company to operate the city-owned, 7,000-seat U.S. Cellular Coliseum.

 City Manager David Hales on Wednesday said Ames, Iowa-based VenuWorks was chosen for the job. He recommended the city council vote Monday to hire the firm. It would replace Central Illinois Arena Management, which didn't seek to renew its contract. That company managed the coliseum since it opened a decade ago. Its contract expires April 1. 

There have been ongoing disputes between Central Illinois Arena Management and the city.


BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - Several central Illinois residents say people headed to a rally in Bloomington for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump drove over graves and headstones. 


The Trump rally on Sunday at the Synergy Flight Center was across the street from East Lawn Memorial Gardens.

More than 3,000 people attended the rally. Charlotte Twyford of Downs said she has two relatives buried in the cemetery. She said headstones were broken and noting some people attending the rally had "a total disrespect for the graves." 

storyvillegirl / Flickr/Creative Commons

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - A birthing center is under construction in Bloomington-Normal that would be the second in Illinois and the first outside of the Chicago area.

The Bloomington-Normal Birthing Center is to have prenatal education, yoga and exercise classes, two exam rooms, a nurses' station and three birthing center rooms. Each of those will have a labor and birth tub and bathroom.

A group of child care providers from the Chicago area descended on the Illinois Child Care Resource and Referral Agency in Bloomington to push for more money. During an Illinois Department of Human Services public hearing, the group pushed for what it calls a "fair" wage of $15 an hour. Sharon Norwood of Chicago, one of the child care providers speaking at the hearing, says the state budget stalemate is cutting into her wages.

Indiana Public Media / Flickr/Creative Commons

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - Police say Bloomington had a second consecutive year of record-low numbers of serious crimes in 2015. 

There were no homicides last year - the first year without one since 1997. 

Police Chief Brendan Heffner says "we will keep working hard" to keep the number low. The percentage of serious crimes in 2015 was 11.6 percent lower than a year earlier. There were 232 fewer reports of serious crime than the 2,001 in 2014.  The 2014 decrease was 13.3 percent from 2013.  

leighannemcc / Flickr/Creative Commons

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - Officials in Central Illinois say the mild winter is helping their local governments' bottom line.  

The  cities of Bloomington and Normal and McLean County are saving money because temperatures since November have been above normal and there's been little snowfall.

 Bloomington Public Works Director Jim Karch says it's been the most tame winter he's seen in seven years on the job. 

The Bloomington City Council is considering turning over management of the city's three golf courses to a private company.

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - The Bloomington City Council is considering turning over management of the city's three golf courses to a private company. 

The  council will begin discussions Monday to determine if outsourcing operations could save the city money. A community budget task force recommended last year that the city explore selling one or all three municipal courses. The panel also suggested using an outside firm. 

A new cyber-security squadron will be headquartered with the Illinois National Guard.  The 39-person unit will be based in Springfield with Illinois team members also in Bloomington and Chicago. 

A Bloomington woman has pleaded guilty in the middle of her bench trial on charges that she didn't obtain medical care for her young son who died from physical abuse.

Some Bloomington landowners with property in the path of a planned oil pipeline will receive up to $30,000 each. But that decision by a central Illinois judge means the landowners won't get the jury trial they sought. Pipeline company Enbridge Inc. had asked the judge to rule rather than send the case to a jury. Landowners say they'll appeal. 

The provost of a university in Minnesota has been named the new president of Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington. 

Police in Bloomington say two people were stabbed and a third assaulted in attacks in the business district today.

Bloomington-Normal reacts to Mitsubishi closure

Jul 24, 2015

Officials from the town of Normal, city of Bloomington, McLean County, and several other stakeholders held a news conference this afternoon about Mitsubishi Motor of North America's decision to close its auto plant here.

Mayor Chris Koos says it's time to move ahead:

"We need to embrace this decision by Mitsubishi as a new opportunity for our community, and to aggressively engage key local, state and federal leaders to help us develop an aggressive strategy to find a new owner for the local Mitsubishi facility."

City of Bloomington

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - Bloomington police investigating the slaying of an accountant found shot to death in her office have charged her ex-husband with murder. 

McLean County officials say an inspection found no malfunctions in an elevator involved in a deadly accident earlier this week.

A psychiatrist has testified that a 35-year-old Bloomington man who has been in a state treatment program for sexually dangerous people since he was 15 is eligible to be released. 

 Authorities say a maintenance mechanic has died in a central Illinois elevator accident.

The lone seal at Bloomington's Miller Park Zoo now has company.  Zoo officials say two harbor seals went on exhibit this week.