"One time is too many" Sheriff reacts to recent murder case

By Lacey Clifton

Tue Sep 04 15:17:17 PDT 2018


CRAWFORD COUNTY, Ill. (WTHI) - A Wabash Valley Sheriff is looking back on a recent murder case. He says there could've been a different outcome.

We're talking about the murder of Sandra Kendall. We first told you about the case back in July. Officials say the murder took place in the small town of Bellair, Illinois, which is north of Oblong.

The two suspects in the murder are Kendall's daughter Kristine Phillippe and Phillippe's boyfriend, Jason Strawbridge. Both Phillippe and Strawbridge have pleaded not guilty to Kendall's murder.

News 10 spoke with Crawford County Sheriff Will Rutan. He says if conditions were different for his department, the day of Kendall's murder could've played out differently.

The Sheriff says, ”It doesn't happen in Crawford County very often, but you know it still happens. You know one time is too many. One time is too many."

In July, law enforcement officials found Sandra Kendall dead with a gunshot wound in her home.

Rutan shares, "Between that whole family, it was a common occurrence for law enforcement to be called to that residence for domestic issues."

But Sheriff Rutan thinks things didn't have to end the way they did that day.

When asked if things might’ve been different if the department had more man power, Rutan answers, “It's a very good possibility it would've."

Rutan says the family members lived on the same property. He says Phillippe lived in a camper separate from her mother's home. The property is in rural Crawford County.

He shares, "It’s a long time to get there, 15 minutes is a lot of time when something bad is going on. It just makes it difficult to patrol the area we have."

Rutan says officers had already been to Bellair once the day of Kendall's murder. They were serving an order of protection from Kendall to her daughter.

The order details a strained relationship. Kendall stated her daughter had "physically abused her." She'd done so by kicking her in the stomach, biting her, pulling her hair, and spitting in her face. Kendall went on to say she was “extremely scared” of her daughter. She even mentions Phillippe threatening her nephew with a gun the day before.

The Sheriff says his department is like many across the nation. They are striving to put public safety first, but are battling low patrol numbers to do so.

He says, "It's difficult to police such a large area with the amount of people that we do have. An unfortunate situation that happens."

Rutan says since this incident, the department has changed how it responds to certain situations.

Both Phillippe and Strawbridge will appear in court later this month.