Mt. Sterling homicide still unsolved

It's been two-and-a-half years since the murder of a Mount Sterling woman, and no one faces charges yet in her death.

34-year-old Kathy Blentlinger was found dead in her bedroom after an early morning fire November ninth of 2007.

The following June, a Brown County Coroner's jury ruled her death a homicide.

KHQA's Rajah Maples asked the Brown County State's Attorney earlier this week where the case stands now, and if a killer is any closer to being found.

Family members described Blentlinger as an outgoing person who loved spending time with her family, especially her young son. She lived with her 8 year old son, but he wasn't home when the fire broke out. Blentlinger was going to school to pursue her dream of becoming a medical assistant when her life was cut short.

This was all that was left of her house after the fire in her home at 202 East South Street. A state fire marshal's office investigator says the blaze was started by gasoline spilled on the back porch. Autopsy results show Blentlinger died of smoke inhalation.

It's been more than two years since Kathy Blentlinger died. Her house has been bulldozed, and grass now grows in its place. But the story of how she lost her life is nowhere near closed.

Mark Vincent was elected Brown County State's Attorney in November 2008. The Illinois State Police, who now heads up the investigation, immediately briefed Vincent after he took office. Here are all of the files and reports to date, packed into this box. Vincent told me persons of interest have been identified.

Vincent said, "The investigators have continued to follow up on leads and conducted dozens of interviews of family members of the deceased, family members of the persons of interest. They've conducted surveillance work, consulted with the FBI. They've continued to follow up on leads ever since, and the case certainly hasn't gone cold as far as they're concerned, or me."

Vincent says he plans to meet with the criminal enforcement division of the attorney general's office next month to find out if there's enough evidence to seek a grand jury indictment.

Vincent said, "That division of the attorney general's office assists smaller counties like ours with these types of technical investigations. Arson murders are difficult cases. Of course, there's no statute of limitation on murder, but there is double jeopardy. So if we decide there's enough evidence to proceed with criminal prosecution, we would like to have a good likelihood of success, because if we weren't successful, at least with that defendant, that would be the end of the case."

Vincent told me his office has been in contact with Blentlinger's family on a fairly regular basis. He says it's extremely important to them to proceed with the case if and whenever possible.

Do you think this case will be solved?

Vincent said, "It's hard to say. I think there is a lot of evidence, but one of the things we have to consider as prosecutors is, a lot of the evidence we have may not be admissible in the criminal trial, and whether it's solved or whether there's a conviction are two different things, I think, in the opinion of those who know the facts. So, that's a difficult question."

Evidence and leads are just as important to this case as any other.

Brown County State's Attorney Mark Vincent urges anyone with information about this case to contact either his office or the Illinois State Police.