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updated: 10/31/2010 8:38 PM

Neighbors of NIU murder suspect say he was quiet

Neighbors unable to shed much light on Billy Curl

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  • William "Billy" P. Curl

      William "Billy" P. Curl

  • Antinette "Toni" Keller

      Antinette "Toni" Keller

  • NIU murder suspect Billy Curl lived in the 16-story Golden Years Plaza, where residents say Curl kept a low profile.

       NIU murder suspect Billy Curl lived in the 16-story Golden Years Plaza, where residents say Curl kept a low profile.
    Marie Wilson | Staff Photographer

 
 

Authorities have said little about the man accused of sexually assaulting and killing Northern Illinois University freshman Antinette "Toni" Keller. The people who lived closest to William "Billy" Curl couldn't shed much light on him, either.

They said Sunday the 34-year-old man often could be seen smoking outside Golden Years Plaza, a DeKalb high-rise mostly inhabited by seniors. Curl kept to himself.

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When they heard last week that he had been arrested for the gruesome murder of the 18-year-old Neuqua Valley High School graduate, residents were somewhat surprised.

"It was a sad feeling," said Randy De Garmo, who lives in the 16-floor, low-income building on the 500 block of Taylor Street. "We feel really bad about what happened. It's hard to come to grips with the fact that he lived here."

Curl was charged Friday with Keller's murder, which police are calling a "crime of opportunity." He is set for a bond hearing Monday and has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, one charge of arson and one charge of criminal sexual assault. Curl could potentially face the death penalty on two of the murder charges. Bail was set Saturday at $5 million.

The charges ended a swift investigation that tracked Curl from DeKalb to Mexico to a Covington, La., hotel where he was arrested last week.

Police first became suspicious of Curl when he failed to show up for a scheduled interview about the case.

Keller had last been seen Oct. 14 heading to Prairie Park to look for ideas for an art project. Two days later, police found charred human remains near some of Keller's possessions in the park. The body has yet to be identified, and police have said that process could take weeks, if not months.

Although Golden Years Plaza residents say there has been an increase in criminal activity in the facility, which used to only house seniors, they say it is a relatively secure place. There are three security cameras per floor, including the eighth floor, where Curl lived.

News of Curl's arrest has not exactly shattered that feeling of security, but De Garmo said some residents have expressed an uncomfortable feeling. A building-wide meeting was set for Monday with police to update residents.

Neighbors on Sunday painted a calm and loner-type profile of Curl.

"He didn't come off as being strange," De Garmo said. "I'd see him on the elevator and say 'hi.'"

De Garmo said he hopes justice is served swiftly.

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