Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

November 29, 2012

Family recalls homicide victim with local ties

MAROA —      A second suspect in the murder of a man who spent much of his youth in rural Windsor will have a bond hearing today.

    Terris D. Warnsley, 21, of Maroa, is accused of killing Justin Mentzer, 23, also of Maroa. Mentzer, who grew up in Humboldt and spent much of his youth on his grandparents’ Shelby County farm, died as a result of multiple blunt and sharp force injuries to his face and upper body, said Macon County Coroner Michael Day in his autopsy report.

    Police also arrested a suspect on Tuesday, just one day after Mentzer’s wife found him in their home at 203 E. Washington St., Lot 1. Douglas W. Taylor, 21, of Maroa, is in the Macon County Jail after a judge set a $10 million bond for him.

    Wednesday evening, Mentzer’s dad, Leon Mentzer, remembered his son’s days in Shelby County.

    “He spent lots of time down there with his grandparents,” said Mentzer. “Him and his (twin) brother both.

    “I’m his father. I just lost my wife. This is a very tough time for me.”

    Leon Mentzer was referring to the September death of his wife, Mary (McAllister) Mentzer, whose obituary in the Daily News said she succumbed to a four-month illness. Mary Mentzer was born in Shelbyville and still has family in Shelby County and in Effingham, Leon Mentzer said.

    “I only have one left,” said Leon Mentzer who was referring to Justin’s twin brother, Joshua.

    Leslie Mentzer discovered her husband’s violently abused body shortly after 7 a.m. Monday when she returned home from work. She called 911 immediately, and the coroner pronounced him dead a short time later.

    Warnsley and Taylor face charges of first degree murder, home invasion and aggravated robbery.

    Day said Taylor allegedly told police he and Warnsley had been planning to kill Mentzer for three weeks and were planning on taking a Playstation 3, a Playstation Vita and the victim’s laptop from Mentzer’s home. Taylor also allegedly told police he brought a knife and Warnsley brought a hammer into Mentzer’s home and had a secured buyer for the items they intended to steal.

    Day said Maroa hasn’t seen a murder in decades.

    “I’ve been close to here for a long time. We’ve not had an occurrence like this in 50 to 70 years,” he said. “We’ve not had any confirmed homicide in the area since before then. It’s something no one really expects in this small and cohesive of a community and it just reminds us that the world can be a hard place.”

    Leon Mentzer said his son was a caring individual who was trying to turn his life around.

    “My son went over to my neighbor’s family’s home for Thanksgiving and cooked them all a Thanksgiving meal,” he said. “That’s just the kind of person he was. Instead of starting a tradition with his family, he was doing that. He was trying. That’s the kind of person he was.”

    In 2009, Justin Mentzer was charged with a sexual offense related to child pornography, of which Leon said his son was innocent. Mentzer said his son took the punishment in order to move past the crime. Justin was placed on the Illinois Sex Offender registry.

    “My son never did anything bad enough for what happened to him,” Mentzer said. “I’m heartbroken.”

    Mentzer said he hopes to get through the tragedy with support of his family.

    “I would want to tell those boys who did that that I forgive them, but I just can’t right now,” he said. “We’re going to get through it. We lost someone who would have made a great husband for the long haul.”

    Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or jackson.adams@effinghamdailynews.com.

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