Headless body and pipe bomb near school rattle Evanston

Posted: October 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

School forced to close, but some students still show up

September 14, 2010 | By Jonathan Bullington and Robert McCoppin, Chicago Tribun e

In the dead of night, an explosion ripped through Evanston’s Fitzsimons Park, shaking houses and waking  residents blocks away. Responding to calls of a possible blown transformer, police searched but found nothing.

The mystery didn’t begin to unravel until more than an hour later Tuesday, when resident Dale Wyatt made a grisly discovery.

He was walking his dog when it started pulling its leash. Near a playground, he found a headless body.

“I was kind of freaked out,” Wyatt said. “This was the last thing I expected. …”

So began a macabre series of events that led police to discover a pipe bomb near the corpse . Nearby Nichols Middle School was forced to close, but some students still showed up for classes. Parents, children and school buses were waved off and sent away.

After disabling the bomb, investigators were left trying to determine why a man identified as Colin Dalebroux, 21, had two explosive devices.

Police said Dalebroux “was known” to another police agency in Illinois, but offered no details.

They got residents to evacuate an apartment building a block away, at 1012 Main St., where Dalebroux lived, and said they were working with the FBI to examine information stored on his computer.

At the same time, some parents of Nichols students said they were angry it took four hours from the time of the first explosion for them to be notified. While the investigation continues, the middle school will remain closed Wednesday.

Many parents were upset the district did not move faster in handling the emergenc y, said Eileen Budde, a Nichols PTA president, who shared their concerns.

“It seems like it was a long time between police seeing a body and when parents were told,” Budde said.

Police Cmdr. Tom Guenther said that if police, the school district or city off icials thought “there could be a remote possibility (of concern for safety), we would always err on the side of caution. We’re always concerned about safety.”

Residents near the park were stunned by the day’s developments.

Sarah Stanczyk, 34, was asleep wh en the blast rocked her home about 3:50 a.m.

“It woke us up immediately,” she said. “We thought it was a transformer exploding. Either that, or lightning. It sounded like a boom, and the house actually shook.”

She saw police search the area with flashlight s, then leave. It wasn’t until a couple of hours later that “all chaos started breaking loose,” she said.

Wyatt, 31, who lives a half-block from the park, was taking his dog Buddha out for a walk. The German shepherd-mix was agitated and began pulling towa rd something as if chasing a rabbit.

Wyatt found the body of a shirtless man wearing pants with his legs folded underneath him and his right arm stretched up.

There was nothing from the neck up, not even blood, and no obvious marks on the body, he said. A shopping bag and a plastic jug were nearby.

At first he thought it was a mannequin and some kind of “sick joke.” But after he met a woman also walking her dog who pointed a flashlight at the body, they realized it was real. Wyatt went to his home and calle d police, who said they got his call at 5:48 a.m. He met them at the park and led them to the body.

Police taped off the area and found an unexploded pipe bomb near the body. They called the Cook County sheriff’s bomb squad, which disabled it.



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