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Thursday, March 28, 2013 11:04 am

Man featured in 2006 story wanted for Mattoon killing

O’Dell wanted for murder

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Thomas O’Dell
Once a poster boy for drug treatment and reform, Thomas O’Dell is now wanted for the killing of a Mattoon bartender on March 18.

Authorities in Coles County on Tuesday issued an arrest warrant for O’Dell, who was the subject of a 2006 Illinois Times story after he was released from prison after suing the state Department of Corrections, which had awarded him early release for successfully completing drug treatment while incarcerated. The state said that it had erred and that O’Dell’s conviction for attempted meth manufacturing disqualified him for early release, but a judge said otherwise and so O’Dell lived nearly two years as a free man before the state won an appeal and returned him to prison for 10 months.

Back then, O’Dell had all the signs of a reformed criminal. While he was free during the state’s appeal, he passed regular drug tests, got a job and lived with an electronic monitoring device on his ankle without committing any infractions that would result in a return to prison. The cure, however, apparently didn’t take.

O’Dell last year was convicted of methamphetamine possession and placed on probation. On Tuesday, he became a wanted man, with bail set at $5 million, as authorities announced that they believe O’Dell is the man who shot Benjamin Newton, 33, in a brutal killing on March 18.

Newton was tending bar at Toaster’s Pub in Mattoon in the early evening when someone shot him once in the head at close range while robbing the business. Anyone with information on O’Dell should call the Mattoon Police Department at 235-5451 or Crimestoppers at 1-866-345-8488.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

Read about O’Dell’s life of crime and release from prison at www.illinoistimes.com.
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