CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)– Exactly one year ago Thursday, a man was robbed and beaten to death near West Side Park in Champaign. Todd Ledbetter was homeless. He was sleeping on bench when he was attacked and left for dead.
A year later Champaign police won’t comment on what they said is an ongoing investigation. There have been no arrests and there was nothing new to report.
Ledbetter’s family is left incredibly frustrated.
A bench across from the park on N State St. became a makeshift home for Ledbetter, day-after-day, for years.
On July 2, 2020, the day after his death, it was covered in flowers and balloons. A year later, it was mostly empty, much like the feeling Ledbetter’s uncle, Terry Kammermann, is left with.
Kammermann knows the story all too well now. Witnesses told police three people beat and killed the 56-year-old.
“If these people would’ve woken him, he would have given them the money,” Kammermann said.
“Someone Todd’s age and his disability, and his drunken state and being asleep, why wouldn’t you just reach in his pocket and take it? Why would you brutally beat someone to death?”
The significance of the anniversary was not lost on others passing by Thursday. Several people stopped to share that although he was a man with very little, Ledbetter was the first to give away what he had.
“It’s just weird times where people don’t care about the next human being or their life,” shared Azurazus, a homeless man and Ledbetter’s friend.
Azurazus often shared the bench with Ledbetter.
“He helped out a lot of us that are homeless and would encourage us to do better, and get off of the streets,” he said. “…to look at his situation and to do better.”
“Todd was one of our closest friends without an address,” added Rob Dahlhaus, the Director of Development and Community Outreach for C-U at Home, a Champaign non-profit that offers shelter and services for homeless people in Champaign-Urbana.
Dahlhaus remembers Ledbetter with a smile.
“Todd had a lot of struggles, like we all do, but Todd always had this very positive attitude,” he added.
Thursday brought with it a lot of frustration, especially for Kammermann, a man who says he helped raise Ledbetter. He wants to see this go to trial.
“It’s more than Todd being my nephew and loving Todd, and remembering him as a happy little boy,” Kammermann said.
“It’s remembering throughout our community. Our hearts should cry anytime one of these young people gets shot and killed.”
We also reached out to Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz for an update, and asked if there were any suspects.
In an email, her office responded, “The case remains under investigation. No update at this time.”
Each year the Continuum of Service Providers to the Homeless in Champaign County conducts a count of champaign county’s homeless population.
Thomas Bates is the Coordinator for the consortium of about 40 agencies. He said in 2016, the survey counted 188 homeless people in the county. That includes those in emergency shelters and transitional housing.
The total went down in the last five years. Bates said 148 were counted in 2021.