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McDonough County murder cases: ‘I just pray it’s an anomaly’

The McDonough County Courthouse
Rich Egger
The McDonough County Courthouse

Four McDonough County murder cases are still working their way through the court system.

It’s been an unusually violent period in the county with six homicides since March 2022.

State’s Attorney Matt Kwacala hopes we’ve seen the last of it.

“This spate of violence we’ve had in the last couple years, I just pray that it’s an anomaly because I think this is a good town, this is a safe town, it’s a good university,” Kwacala said.

The cases still in the court system

Timothy Smith, 40, of Macomb is scheduled to appear in court again on Jan. 24. He is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Darrell Hocker, 51, of Macomb. The two were cellmates in the McDonough County jail when Smith allegedly beat Hocker to death on Nov. 8, 2023. Smith was in jail on domestic battery and aggravated battery charges.

Davin Purden, 18 of Bushnell and Nicholas Lafary, 18 of Bushnell are both due back in court on Feb. 13. They are each charged with first-degree murder in the death of Travis Purden, 43, of Bushnell. His body was found in his home on June 2, 2023. He had been shot multiple times.

Portia Garrison, 29, of Macomb is also scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 13. She is charged with first degree murder. Garrison is accused of stabbing to death her husband, Ricky Haymer, 27, during a domestic altercation in their home on Feb. 7, 2023.

Dylan Lovato, 24, of Beach Park is due back in court on March 26. He faces four counts of murder in the shooting death of Ivan Almanza, 23, on March 9, 2022. Prosecutors say Lovato drove to Macomb from Beach Park in the middle of the night, let himself into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment, and shot Almanza while he slept in her bed.

The resolved murder cases

One murder case concluded in court last week.

Demond Wilson, Jr., 26, was sentenced to 12 years in prison plus one year of supervised release. He’ll have to serve at least 50% of the prison sentence.

He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the shooting death of Jerman Beathea, 26, of Chicago at a Macomb house party during the early morning hours of March 25, 2023.

Another murder case concluded in court in Jan. 2023 when Brandon Whiteman, 22, of Bardolph was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

A jury in Nov. 2022 convicted him of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Dalton Rose, 21, of Keokuk in downtown Macomb during the early morning hours of July 24, 2022.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.