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The Journal Star
By FRANK RADOSEVICH II OF THE JOURNAL STAR
Posted Jul 31, 2008 @ 10:35 PM Last update Aug 01, 2008 @ 10:51 AM
EAST PEORIA – Mental health professionals spent Thursday evaluating a teenager to see if he is fit to head to court today after allegedly admitting he attacked a woman as she skated on roller blades through the River Trail of Illinois.
Chief Mike Johnson of the Fondulac Park Police Department said the attack happened about 6:40 p.m. Wednesday near Matheny and Fahey Hollow roads when the 27-year-old victim lightly brushed against the side of her assailant. Taking the encounter as a sign of aggression, the teenager bludgeoned the woman with a claw hammer, which he had picked up earlier while wandering away from his grandmother’s house, Johnson said.
If found capable to appear in court, the teen, whose name was not made public because he is a juvenile, could face charges of aggravated battery.
Police said the teen, who lives in Colorado with his mother and was in town visiting his father, has a history of depression and mental illness. Johnson said he was prescribed medication to treat his depression at the time of the attack but it was unclear if he was taking it.
After admitting the crime, the youth was taken to Methodist Medical Center for a mental evaluation and remained there awaiting a court appearance in Tazewell County Court.
The Peoria woman, whose name was not released, received several staples in her head after a she was hit about six to seven times with a hammer while skating alone on the five-mile trail, which stretches from Morton to downtown East Peoria.
Johnson said the victim was conscious when police arrived and she remained in good condition at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria.
“She put up a good fight and actually got the hammer away from him,” Johnson said Thursday.
Johnson said his 13 years with the department have taught him that these types of violent attacks are very rare. During the trail’s 17-year existence, the first reported attack came in May 2007 when a homeless East Peorian knocked a woman from her bike and covered her face with a chemical-soaked rag.
“It was extremely random,” Johnson said. “This young man could have been in his own neighborhood and snapped like that.”
Frank Radosevich II can be reached at 686-3142 or firstname.lastname@example.org.