Dec 14, 2010

Police provide no details on Davlin's death - Springfield, IL


Illinois State Police were tight-lipped Tuesday afternoon on the discovery of Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin's body in his home at 2604 Apple Creek Drive.

Springfield Police Chief Rob Williams said police received a 911 call at 8:54 a.m. They found the mayor deceased after going to his home at 2604 Apple Creek Drive at about 9:10 a.m.

Davlin, 53, reportedly died of an apparent gunshot wound, but authorities would not confirm that at a news conference this morning. Officials also wouldn’t say who made the 911 call.

Davlin did not show up for a court-ordered appearance this morning in a pending estate case involving his late cousin.

The news was announced during a press conference at the city’s Emergency Operations Center at Municipal Center East. Williams was joined by department directors, aldermen and city employees, who somberly filed into the room.

Illinois State Police, who assumed control of the investigation, did not provide any significant details during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. State police director Jonathon Monken did say officers are interviewing Davlin's neighbors and searching his home. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

Ward 3 Ald. Frank Kunz, who is mayor pro tem of the city and will take over mayoral duties, said he plans to cancel tonight’s committee of the whole meeting.

He said he is shocked and that it's a sad day.

Mayoral spokesman Ernie Slottag said day-to-day operations of the city will continue the same.

The city has 60 days to select a new mayor.

Davlin was elected as mayor in 2003. The two-term Democrat didn't file to run for re-election. Davlin said it was a desire to leave office before he got burned out â€" and not his personal financial issues â€" led to his decision to not run for a third four-year term.

Davlin's death comes nearly 12 years to the day his father, Robert E. Davlin, passed away.

Missed court hearing

Earlier Tuesday, the judge overseeing a probate case involving the estate of Davlin's cousin removed Davlin as administrator of the estate after he failed to show up for the court hearing.

Circuit Judge Pete Cavanagh had ordered Davlin and Bradley Huff, attorney for Catholic Charities of Springfield, to be in his courtroom this week to discuss the accounting and the status of attorneys in the estate of Margaret Ettelbrick, who died in 2003.

Davlin is executor of Ettelbrick’s estate.

Patrick “Tim” Timoney withdrew as lawyer for the estate in October, saying he could not come up with a final accounting because Davlin had not provided documentation. Timoney last week submitted a claim against the estate for more than $19,000 in legal fees.


3:48 p.m.: Illinois State Police director Jonathon Monken is providing little new information at a news conference this afternoon regarding the death of Mayor Tim Davlin. He said an autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow. Investigators are interviewing neighbors and others who might have information about the death, and they have searched the home for anything that is out of place.

3:30 p.m.: Springfield mayoral candidate Mike Coffey Jr., is among those offering condolences to the family of Mayor Tim Davlin, and has canceled a fund-raiser scheduled at his downtown restaurant, Saputo’s, tonight.

“Today is a sad day for Springfield,” Coffey said in a statement. “My family and I would like to offer our prayers and condolences to the family and friends of Mayor Tim Davlin, including his mother Norene and his four children.”

3:05 p.m.: Sheila Stocks-Smith, Davlin's one-time education liaison who recently announced she will run for mayor in the March election, said her campaign will suspend all campaign activity until further notice out of respect for the Davlin family.

“I am deeply saddened by the news today. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Mayor’s family. Mayor Tim Davlin loved the City of Springfield and loved his family above all else,” she said in a news release.

2:40 p.m.: Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce Gary Plummer was a friend of Davlin's and worked with him on many different projects related to the city.

He's always done a terrific job of representing the community, and I think his personality played into that in a big way, Plummer said. He never met a stranger. Once he got acquainted with anybody, they considered the mayor their friend. I just think he came across so naturally in that role that probably central casting couldn't have done a better job of finding someone better than Tim Davlin to represent Springfield.

Probably more than anything, I'll remember the sense of humor. He was the kind of guy you liked to be around.

Plummer said the first day he saw Davlin was on his first day on the job.

He was helping cut a ribbon for U.S. Senator Barack Obama's new Springfield office in the Illinois Building. And he was with Senator (Dick) Durbin and with Congressman (Ray) LaHood and Senator Obama, at that time, and he struck me as a very charismatic leader, Plummer said. In fact, I turned to someone and said, 'Who is that gentleman?' And the answer was it was the mayor, which, quite frankly, kind of surprised me because he looked like he probably should have been secretary of state or something the way he carried himself.

Among Davlin's biggest accomplishments, Plummer said, was his handling of the March 2006 tornadoes that devastated parts of Springfield's near south and east sides.

He and his team did an outstanding job of reacting to that, Plummer said. We think he's also stepped up in a big way during this controversy over high-speed rail and was able to use his influence to try to slow that project down to a pace that would allow more community input.

He had a very outgoing personality and he had a knack for making everyone around the table feel like they were an important part of the discussion, at least as important as he was to the discussion.

2:34 p.m.: The death of Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin is being felt across Illinois.

“We’ve had mayors from all over the state and people calling all morning,” said Roger Huebner, deputy executive director and general counsel of the Springfield-based Illinois Municipal League, adding the callers “want to know whatever they can do for the family.”

Davlin is the immediate past president of the league, which represents more than 1,000 cities and villages. His one-year term as president ended at the annual meeting of the group in September in Chicago.

Huebner said Davlin showed “tireless energy” not only running his own city, but as an advocate for cities on the national and state levels as well. He and Davlin attended the inauguration of President Barack Obama together.

“He was such a tremendous man, able to grasp such highly complicated issues, and I always marveled at how he could distill it in a way that everybody could understand it,” Huebner said.

Davlin’s legacy will include some things that don’t immediately come to mind, Huebner said, such as the installation of fiber optic cable that’s helping businesses use state-of-the-art technology. There’s new water purification facilities coming online, he added. And a more obvious accomplishment is the construction of the city’s new coal-fired power plant.

Davlin went on the municipal league’s board almost immediately after taking office in 2003, and it speaks well of him that he rose to president, Huebner said.

“It’s all the mayors of the state electing their leader,” he said. “It’s a leader among leaders.”

Huebner said he was with Davlin just this weekend at a board meeting of the league in Chicago, and things seemed “fine as could be” with the mayor.

“He was in great spirits,” Huebner said. “We were laughing and telling jokes, just reminiscing a little about things, as you do as you get to the holiday season.

“He’s just one of those exceptional men that light up a room.”

2:18 p.m.: The Illinois State Police have scheduled a 3:30 p.m. news conference to discuss the death investigation. The conference is at the agency's headquarters at Seventh Street and Lawrence Avenue.

1:25 p.m.: Ward 6 Ald. Mark Mahoney had this to say about Davlin's death:

It's a very sad moment for the city of Springfield, for the council and his administration, and we're all shocked. And I think it's still, at this moment, just dealing with that and trying to get through the next few days.

Mahoney said the last time he saw Davlin was at a Springfield City Council meeting about a week ago.

Our hearts and our prayers go out to his family, and we just can't fathom what they're dealing with, Mahoney said.

Mahoney wasn't sure whether Mayor pro-tem Frank Kunz would remain mayor or whether the city council will look to choose someone else.

I think we get through the next few days and go from there, he said.

City council coordinator Joe Davis said he considered Davlin a friend.

“I think he was respected by the council and the city,” he said. “I think he’s done one hell of a job as mayor.”

1:22 p.m.: The city of Springfield’s website now only shows a picture of the mayor. Underneath the photo is “Mayor Timothy Davlin 1957-2010” and a link to his biography.

The flag has been lowered to half-staff on top of city hall.

1:18 p.m.: Ward 2 Ald. Gail Simpson said she will remember Davlin as a “man who loved the city.”

“I think the worst part of his job was having to lay off people or even contemplate the layoffs of people, she said. I believe he was sincere. He will be missed.

She said she hopes people aren’t rushing to judgment about his death.

“I hope that people will keep their family in their prayers, especially his mom and his children,” she said. “This ought to be a time for the city to pull together and mourn the loss of a special man.”

Meanwhile, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield issued this statement:

We have heard with great sorrow of the death of Springfield’s Mayor Timothy Davlin. We commend him to the mercy of God and offer our prayers for him and his family.

1:14 p.m.: The Illinois Municipal League, of which Davlin was a past president, issued the following statement this afternoon:

The Illinois Municipal League mourns the loss of IML Past President, Board Member and friend, Mayor Timothy J. Davlin of Springfield.

Mayor Davlin was a member of the IML Board of Directors since 2003, and just completed his one-year term as the League's President this past September.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult and sad time.

Additional information for services will be added as they are known.

1:07 p.m.: Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, a friend and fishing buddy of Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin for more than three decades, says the city of Springfield has lost an outstanding leader and he has lost a great friend with Davlin’s death.

Davlin was a page in the House when White was a state representative from Chicago.

“I used to send him downstairs to get me lunch … and then we started talking about fishing,” White recalled. “And he says, ‘I’m a big fisherman. I fish all over the place.’ And I said, ‘Well, first chance we get, I’d like you to take me to some of those places.’”

“I think we probably fished in every pond in Sangamon County,” and some others nearby, White said.

White said there were probably 25 to 30 such trips when he was a lawmaker.

“After he became the mayor of the city of Springfield, we really, really got a chance to move our relationship forward in a highly professional way,” added White, who spoke by telephone from Chicago.

When White had a re-election announcement in 2009 in Springfield, Davlin introduced him. And White also recalled an Illinois Municipal League event in Chicago. Davlin, the immediate past president of the group, had invited the Jesse White Tumblers to the perform at the meeting. White said Davlin was put in the line as someone the tumblers could jump over.

“It was a fun time for all,” White said.

“I just found him to be a wonderful young man, and then later on, an outstanding adult and leader of the city of Springfield,” White said. “The people of the city of Springfield lost a wonderful, wonderful human being, and I lost a personal friend … a great friend.”

12:45 p.m.: Citizens of Springfield say they are shocked to hear of Davlin's death today.

Roy Newman, pastor, Fresh Visions Community Church

I got the news just like everyone else. My thoughts go out to the family, Newman said on his way to work in downtown Springfield Tuesday morning, about 30 minutes after hearing about Davlin's death. My thoughts go out to the family. We all have problems. In talking with my wife, we were saying you never know what's going on internally with a person.

Newman said he'd met Davlin several times. His wife, Jackie Newman, executive director of the Springfield Housing Authority, also knew the late mayor.

We've been at some events together. Did a couple photo opps. We greeted each other kindly. There's a lot we'll all have to work through in the next few weeks and months.

Kate Hawkes, owner Trout Lily Café

It's just shocking and very sad, said Hawkes, who remembers crowning Davlin as the king of Springfield's Mardi Gras a few years ago, when she and others started a Mardi Gras organization in town and held a celebration at the Inn at 835.

It's sad he felt compelled to take his life, especially for the family, Hawkes said. He's been in here a few times in conjunction with Mardi Gras. I didn't always agree with his decisions (as mayor) but I just think it's tragic. There obviously were things in his life that weren't right. I find it terribly sad. I am a mother and have sons. I have an idea of how I'd feel.

Tim Donley, retired state worker

We were all shocked, Donley said Tuesday morning at Café Andiamo, where Donley and a group of friends routinely gather in the mornings. We were all on our cell phones. We were all shocked. Nobody said anything. Just disbelief.

Donley, whose family used to own the Maid-Rite restaurant and the now-closed Timbersmoke restaurant, said Davlin and members of his family would come in and eat from time to time.

He stayed at Timbersmoke two to three hours once. He had gotten a plaque. I saw him last week at Sam's Club. He always was really friendly. I voted for him both times. It's a tragedy. He's got children. His family was so proud of him, you could tell. I've already prayed for them.

12:40 p.m.: City officials are reacting this afternoon to news of Davlin's death.

City Clerk Cecilia Tumulty: It’s heartbreaking for the family and for the city. I will certainly keep the entire Davlin family in my prayers.”

Ward 5 Ald. Sam Cahnman said he was “shocked and devastated.”

Canhman said he saw Davlin at the recent tree-lighting ceremony for the city Christmas tree and that Davlin “was jovial and upbeat.

“I wouldn’t have expected this in a million years.”

12:36 p.m.: Yellow police tape and multiple squad cars blocked off access to Apple Creek Drive Tuesday morning. Springfield police said they were maintaining a perimeter around the home as state police investigated inside.

Word of Davlin’s death spread quickly through the neighborhood.

Dr. Sam Gaines of Colbrook Drive lives just a few doors west of Davlin’s residence.

He said he and his wife, Doloris, were on their way to her doctor’s appointment about 9 a.m. when they drove past Davlin’s home. He said the garage door was half-open and the mayor’s car was running.

“We thought he was just warming it up before he goes out,” Sam Gaines said.

Later, the couple was at Vono’s Pharmacy and heard something had happened to the mayor. Their daughter, Samantha Gaines, who also lives at their home, was at her job at the Springfield Housing Authority when she heard there had been a shooting in their neighborhood. She immediately raced home to make sure her parents were OK.

The entire family expressed shock and sadness.

“He was a nice guy. Every time his car would go by and I was out in the yard, he’d wave and smile,” Sam Gaines said.

He couldn’t recall how long Davlin had lived in his home but said the mayor hosted a Christmas reception for the neighborhood shortly after moving into the house.

Sam Gaines said the mayor frequently had relatives and friends over and on Saturday mornings could be heard taking his motorcycle out for a ride.

Gaines, a physician at St. John’s Hospital, became emotional when he recalled how Davlin took time to ask him how he was doing after another doctor at the hospital was stabbed.

“It’s really, really sad,” he said.

12:15 p.m.: U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., issued a statement today offering his sympathy to the family of Mayor Tim Davlin.

“I was stunned and saddened by the news of Mayor Tim Davlin’s passing,” Durbin said. “His work with my office always reflected his dedication to our hometown. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this tragic moment.”

12:10 p.m.: Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield, called Davlin’s death “really a shocker.”

“He had the kind of charisma every elected official wishes they had,” Bomke said. “The guy could have been elected to anything if that’s what he wanted to do.”

Bomke said he last spoke with Davlin about two weeks ago when Davlin appeared before the Senate Local Government Committee on which Bomke serves. Davlin testified in support of a bill reforming police and fire pensions.

“He was himself, smiling and did an excellent job in his presentation,” Bomke said.
Bomke said they chatted before the hearing.
“I asked him what his plans were. He said he had no plans,” Bomke said.

12:05 p.m.: Gov. Pat Quinn says Springfield is a better place because of the leadership of the late Mayor Tim Davlin.

Quinn, a fellow Democrat, says in a statement that Davlin was a great public servant who loved the city and its people.

He says Davlin led the community through some of its most difficult times and worked hard to revitalize the city. (AP)

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