- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 10, 2009



The man charged with fatally shooting a pastor in midsermon and then stabbing two churchgoers had marked the day as “death day” in a planner found in his home and carried enough ammunition to kill 30 people, a prosecutor said Monday.

Madison County State’s Attorney William Mudge said he had no details on the reference in reputed gunman Terry J. Sedlacek’s day planner, only that it singled out Sunday as “death day.”

“The only thing I can really comment on is, he came armed with many rounds of ammunition and a knife, and I think we can surmise that more bloodshed may have occurred,” Mr. Mudge said.

Mr. Sedlacek, 27, of Troy, was charged Monday with first-degree murder and aggravated battery in the attack at First Baptist Church that killed the Rev. Fred Winters and left Mr. Sedlacek and two congregants who tackled him with stab wounds.

Neither Mr. Mudge nor Illinois State Police would comment on a possible motive or on Mr. Sedlacek’s mental state when he purportedly strode into the church shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday, exchanged words with Mr. Winters and began firing a handgun.

“We’re still not sure what the reasoning was,” said state police Lt. Scott Compton, adding that investigators had not yet interviewed Mr. Sedlacek.

Mr. Sedlacek has suffered bouts of erratic behavior his family has attributed to Lyme disease.

Verna Giley, 59, said Monday that she worked with Mr. Sedlacek at a restaurant in nearby Alhambra that was owned by his mother and stepfather, Robert and Ruth Abernathy, before it was sold at auction last fall.

Mrs. Giley said Mr. Sedlacek had been a quiet teen. But after his Lyme disease diagnosis and a hospitalization when, according to Mrs. Giley, he almost died, he began making odd noises and his body would sometimes jerk. She said he never was threatening.

“They’ve tried all different kinds of treatments, but it seems nothing helped,” Mrs. Giley said of the Abernathys.

Mr. Sedlacek’s attorney, Ron Slemer, told the Belleville News-Democrat on Monday that his client has deteriorated both mentally and physically since contracting Lyme disease.

But Dr. Eugene Shapiro, a Lyme disease specialist at Yale University, said it would be unlikely that the tick-borne ailment would make someone so violent. “Lyme disease doesn’t cause people to shoot people,” he said.

A phone call to a number listed for Robert and Ruth Abernathy in Troy rang unanswered Monday.

Mr. Mudge said Mr. Sedlacek had 10 rounds of ammunition in a handgun and was carrying two more 10-round magazines in his pocket on Sunday. The .45-caliber Glock jammed after four shots were fired at Mr. Winters, prosecutors said, but not before one bullet fatally struck him in the heart after he deflected the first with his Bible.

Mr. Sedlacek was ordered held without bond even as he remained hospitalized Monday in serious condition. Authorities said he stabbed himself in the throat while being wrestled to the ground by the two congregants.

One of them, Terry Bullard, 39, also remained in serious condition Monday. The other, Keith Melton, was treated and released.

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