KEY POINTS

  • A missing 14-year-old boy was found beaten to death by cyclists Friday in a roadside ditch in Illinois
  • A 55-year-old man who knew the victim's father was arrested and charged with first-degree murder
  • The suspect has a criminal record that includes sexual abuse and drug-related charges

A 55-year-old man in Illinois is facing murder charges after a 14-year-old boy who lived in the same neighborhood was found beaten to death in a roadside ditch Friday.

The victim, identified as Steven Butler III, was reported missing to Champaign police Thursday evening by his father, who said it was out of character for him not to stay in touch with him.

The 14-year-old had left the family home in Champaign, Illinois, around 5 p.m. and could not be reached, according to the nonprofit Missing Person Awareness Network. After his father filed a missing person's report later that night, police searched the neighborhood for the teen but were unsuccessful, authorities said in a statement.

On Friday morning, two bicyclists discovered a body about 1.4 miles away in East Washington Street, Urbana, police said. The Champaign County Coroner’s Office later identified the victim as the missing 14-year-old.

Hours after the body was discovered, police, with the help of the local sheriff's office, identified Daryl Vandyke, of Champaign, as a person of interest and took him into custody.

Authorities said Vandyke also had an outstanding warrant for contempt of court from Douglas County. He was initially taken into custody on that until a warrant for murder could be obtained, police said.

After he was detained, police found a "potential crime scene" and obtained a search warrant to check the 55-year-old man’s home. Their efforts allegedly recovered more evidence tied to the death of Butler, according to the police statement.

Based on the evidence and information learned during the investigation, Vandyke is being charged with first-degree murder, the statement said.

Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz said Vandyke is an acquaintance of the deceased's father, The News-Gazette reported. She added that the teen died of blunt-force injuries, and an autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

Police have not released a potential motive. 

Vandyke has a criminal record that dates back to 1986, according to Champaign County jail records. This included an allegation of sexual abuse and multiple drug-related charges.

He is currently being held in the Champaign County Correctional Center on $2 million bond.

“It is with a heavy heart we must report that Steven Wayne Butler III has been located deceased. Our hearts are heavy as we give our condolences to Steven's family and those who know and love him,” an official statement from the Missing Person Awareness Network NFP read.

handcuffs-354042_640 Rydell Stipe was arrested on charges of first-degree rape and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. Photo: pixabay