Parole denied for convicted 1977 Winnebago County murderer

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The Illinois Prisoner Review Board has decided against parole for Curtis Brownell, who is serving a life sentence for the 1977 murder of 17 year old Louise Betts.

Winnebago State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross released a statement saying, “Although it has been more than 33 years since Mr. Brownell was convicted of these heinous crimes, the impact of these crimes still resonates with the victims, their families, and the community. The attack on these two victims were not the first crimes Mr. Brownell committed against women, but they should certainly be his last.  When the court imposed a sentence of 100-300 years, the court sent a strong message that Mr. Brownell should spend the rest of his life in the Illinois Department of Corrections.”

In September of that year, Brownell kidnapped Betts while she hitchhiked along North Second Street in Loves Park. Brownell sexually assaulted the teenager, then left her body in a rural Boone County field, where she went undiscovered for several months.

Before his arrest in connection to the Betts case, Brownell abducted a second woman from a Rockford laundromat. The woman, who was seven months pregnant at the time of her assault, was left for dead by Brownell. Both the woman and her child survived.

Brownell was convicted of his crimes in 1978, where he was sentenced to 100 to 300 years in prison. He has been denied parole more than a dozen times. His last attempt was back in 2014, where the Illinois Prisoner Review Board voted unanimously against his release and decided not to give Brownell another change at parole for five years.

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross and Boone County State’s Attorney Tricia Smith both testified to prevent his release in February, 2019.

The board is expected to make their decision on Thursday, March 28th.

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