Sex offender arrested at event for area children


West Frankfort Police confirm that a man was arrested at 11:40 a.m. Saturday at an annual Christmas charity event. Police Chief Jeff Tharp said that an anonymous tip summoned officers to the annual West Frankfort Elks Club Christmas party for local children.

Taken into custody was convicted sexual predator Roger Walters Jr. According to witnesses, Walters was quietly removed from the gathering, and handcuffed away from the party and out of view of the children attending.

Tharp says that Walters will be charged with Violation of the Child Sex Offender Registry Act.  Among the provisions of the law is one that prohibits a registered sex offender from knowingly being present at a facility providing services exclusively directed at children under age 18. Tharp said officers spoke with Elks officials who said the party was advertised for and specifically catered to children.

Walters was taken to the Franklin County Jail.

W.F. Police announce arrest in firearm theft



West Frankfort Police Chief Jeff Tharp has announced an arrest in the recent burglary of a West Frankfort home. No date was identified when three guns were found missing from a home in the 100 block of West Sixth Street. Chief Tharp said the victim could not pinpoint when the guns were stolen.

The guns stolen were: a .22 long rifle, with a Bushnell scope, a Colt commander .45 caliber pistol, stainless steel and a 100th Anniversary edition, and also taken was a Heritage Roughrider .22 caliber pistol.

On Nov. 14, West Frankfort Police saw the investigation lead to Fairfield. A Fairfield resident told police there that he had purchased one of the firearms but did not know it was stolen. A similar story then emerged with a Thompsonville man saying he bought a gun, not knowing it was taken in a burglary.

West Frankfort Police developed a suspect in the case, and arrested 22-year-old Justin M. Murphy at a home on North Illinois Avenue in West Frankfort.

According to Chief Tharp, Murphy has admitted to investigators he entered the home of an acquaintance and took the weapons.

Murphy has been charged with residential burglary and the theft of the firearms.


WF Council donates land to Habitat for Humanity

West Frankfort Mayor Tom Jordan visits with local Habitat for Humanity board members, including President Vanessa Sneed, right, at West Frankfort City Hall. The board members attended the West Frankfort City Council meeting Tuesday night to thank the city for the donation of a lot to be developed by the nonprofit.

A lot on East Elm Street in West Frankfort is set to become the fourteenth piece of property developed by the Helping Hands unit of the Franklin County Habitat for Humanity, after the West Frankfort City Council voted to donate the land at 1102 E. Elm Street during their regular meeting Tuesday night.

In other action at the meeting, Franklin County Assistant State’s Attorney Steve Swofford presented $1,000 to the city for its Police work on drug cases. Swofford went on to say that the West Frankfort Police Department had conducted more than 70 controlled substance buys since Jan. 1 in the course of investigating illegal drug sales in the city. He commended the department and Police Chief Jeff Tharp, calling their work “first class, first rate.” City Attorney Mike Riva added that he commended State’s Attorney Evan Owens and his staff for their “aggressive prosecution” of drug cases.

Council members also approved a new resident for the Business Incubator – J&J Gaming. The firm will be working on a state contract for video gaming in the region. The city will spend $6,422.12 to build a security fence at the Business Incubator for the gaming company. Mayor Tom Jordan said he believed that J&J Gaming will be creating jobs in West Frankfort.

The council voted to accept a land donation at 513 W. Midway Street as part of the city’s renewal program. Buildings on the lot will be torn down, and the lot will be made available for sale and development.

— Bruce A. Fasol

Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News