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Cause of death ruled homicide in death of Beardstown businessman

(originally published 12-30-10)

 

 

By Jody Woltman

Publisher, Star-Gazette

 

During the December 23rd coroner’s inquest led by Cass County Coroner Wyatt Sager, a jury of six determined in three minutes that the cause of death of 48-year-old Troy Logsdon of Beardstown was homicide.

Logsdon, owner of Logsdon’s Sand and Gravel, was found deceased Nov. 25 on Arenz Street in Beardstown. The jury, instructed and encouraged by Sager to ask questions of the witnesses, had the choice of five classifications of means of death: accidental, natural, homicide, suicide or undetermined.

The first witness to testify was City of Beardstown Police Chief Tom Schlueter, who was dispatched to the scene in the 300-400 block, right side, of Arenz Street at 12:45 a.m. on Nov. 25. When he arrived, Officer Chris Baer, first on the scene, had turned Logsdon over to administer CPR, but Logsdon was already deceased. Schlueter called Cass County Coroner Sager to the scene, and upon arrival at 1:05 a.m., Logsdon was positioned half on the street and half in a ditch.

Sager stated the body appeared to have been positioned there, as it did not look like a natural fall or hit by a vehicle.  There was also a ‘white, chalky gravel,’ consistent with a parking lot, on the knees. At this time, a decision to call in the Illinois State Police was made, since they offer a crime lab and more personnel. Sager added the #1 reason the state police were called to assist in the investigation was the positioning of the remains on the street, as if Logsdon was placed there. “To me, it was somewhat of a staged scene. It drew a red flag, and I wanted experts to assist.”

Sager stated the visible injuries were swelling and injuries to the left side of the head and face, injuries to the bridge of the nose, eye, temporal region and temporal lobe. He added that in his 34 years of experience, it was his opinion, based on the swelling, that Logsdon was alive when injuries were sustained. The injuries were consistent with injuries from an assault or fight.

After Sager briefed the jury with his findings, Chief Schlueter took the stand. He added that the initial call to dispatch came from Danielle Mayes, Frederick, who had left The Elks Club where she works. She discovered the body on her normal route out of the downtown area.

(Juror questions and witness responses

are summarized.)

Juror question- Were there any reports from the last person to see Logsdon alive?

Schlueter: Yes, at Annie’s Sazarac (downtown tavern). There were witnesses that saw him at approximately 11:45 p.m., and Troy’s truck was found there.

Juror question- What was the condition of the body?

Schlueter: I saw at the autopsy at 1:26 p.m. the next day that there were injuries to the left side of the head, behind the ear, left eye, bridge of nose, mark of blunt force trauma on top of shoulder.

There were no internal injuries, and Dr. John Ralston, a board-certified forensic pathologist at Memorial Health Center in Springfield, confirmed there were no internal injuries.

Juror question-What was found on the body?

Schlueter: Gravel consistent with a parking lot.

Juror question-Consistent with Annie’s?

Schlueter: Could be.

Juror question-Were there any other type of injuries?

Schlueter: I cannot go into that.

Sager questions-More than one injury?

Schlueter: Yes.

Juror question-Does it appear to have been an altercation?

Schlueter: That is correct. (Sager added the injuries were not from falling)

Juror question-Could the body have been placed there?

Schlueter: Absolutely.

The next to take the witness stand was Special Agent/General Criminal Detective Mike Jennings, Illinois State Police, Springfield. Sager added he had the “utmost respect for him” and Jennings has spent countless hours on the case. Jennings read from the preliminary autopsy report, prepared by Dr. Ralston, that cerebral injuries from blunt force trauma to the head was the cause of death.

Juror question-Could weather or alcohol have been a factor?

Jennings: Blood alcohol level was .110% and legal intoxication is .08%, but no, I do not believe either to be the cause of death.

Juror question-Could he have been hit by a car?

Jennings:  There is no evidence of that.

Juror question-Could it have been a fist or instrument?

Jennings: The consensus was blunt force. It could be a fist, foot, object. Not something with sharp edge.

Juror question-Was his clothing torn?

Jennings: No. There was very little debris on clothing. He was relatively clean except for white, chalky powder on knees. No scuffs or marks on shoes as if he jumped out of a car.

Juror question-Was his vehicle at Annie’s?

Jennings:  Yes.

Juror question-Was there any blood found at Annie’s?

Jennings: There was none recovered at Annie’s. The criminal scene investigators (CSI’s) were called in, and no blood was found at the tavern. Logsdon’s hat was found in the back of Annie’s, but not near his vehicle. His vehicle was vandalized.

(Sager added Troy (Logsdon) never went anywhere without his hat.)

Juror question-Were there any restraint marks on the body?

Jennings:  No.

Juror question-Did Logsdon fight back?

Jennings: There were marks on his left hand, but not able to determine if they are from fighting. (Sager added there was quite a bit of swelling on the back of his left hand.)

It was brought to the juror’s attention that Logsdon had a pre-existing brain aneurysm that was being medically treated and caused a weakened blood vessel.

Juror question-Was the aneurysm on the side where he (Logsdon) was struck?

Jennings: Yes.

Juror question-How was he identified so quickly?

Sager responded that Logsdon was very well known in the area.

Juror question-Was it robbery?

Jennings: No, the wallet was on the body.

According to reports, Troy Logsdon and his wife had a verbal altercation in Annie’s Sazarac tavern, and an altercation developed between Logsdon’s wife and another female (that had been with Troy). Both Logsdon and his wife left the tavern at the same time. Witnesses at the tavern place Logsdon there until approximately 11:45 p.m. on Nov. 24. The body was discovered at approximately 12:25 a.m. Nov. 25, roughly 45 minutes after he was seen exiting Annie’s Sazarac.

Juror question-Was he (Logsdon) hit by something like wood or something?

Jennings: The head injury appeared more like a ‘scuffing mark.’

Juror question-Could it have been a beer bottle?

Jennings: It would have split the skin more. There would have been more blood on the side of his head. There was no pattern to the injury.

Juror question-Could it have been like a foot?

Jennings: That’s a possibility. It could have.

Sager then asked the jury if they had any more questions for either witness, and they did not. He also asked the Troy Logsdon family if they had any questions, and they did not.

The jurors were taken to their quarters, and came back 3 minutes later with a verdict: cause of death of homicide. Cause of death: blunt force trauma to the head.

The Illinois State Police and Beardstown Police department continue to investigate. Sager added they will try to bring a swift resolution to the case.