Men charged in WWII vet's murder

August 25, 2009 2:55:47 PM PDT
Police say an elderly man's prized gun collection was the motive behind a home invasion and his murder in Bartlett last week. Two men face first-degree murder charges in the death of Carl Kuhn, 82. The suspects- Terry Bratcher, 43, of West Chicago and Keith Allen, 21, of Chicago, allegedly broke into Kuhn's home on August 21. Kuhn, a retired DuPage County attorney and World War II vet, died of suffocation, according to police.

At first police believed the death was from natural causes. Now, the DuPage County Sheriff's Office is being credited for following up on a hunch that the death was suspicious.

"I would like to thank the DuPage County Sheriff's Office, particularly Investigator Bob Harris, for their quick apprehension of these two men," said DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett in a released statement. "On August 21, Carl Kuhn's life ended violently. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his surviving family. This is a senseless crime that will be met with the full extent of the law."

Kuhn's son, Eric, said his father knew Bratcher.

"The hardest part of this whole thing, this wasn't someone that just wanted to steal my father's guns. This wasn't someone that just wanted money. This was a trusted friend of my father. They didn't kick open the door. My father opened it and let them in," said Eric Kuhn.

Bratcher is the one who called 911, police said, to report Kuhn was unresponsive.

"When this happened, when they told me Terry found him, there wasn't even a thought for a second that Terry was actually the one that had done this," said Eric Kuhn, who said Bratcher and his father became friends several years and Bratcher often did handiwork around the home.

Kuhn was a staunch gun rights advocate and past officer with the Illinois State Rifle Association. He was also a member of Resurrection Catholic Church.

"He had mentioned to myself and the pastor that he thought his collection was worth over $200,000," said Jerry Wiermanski, member of victim's church.

Those guns were found at Bratcher's home, police said.

Allen is being held on a $3 million full cash bond. Bratcher is being held without bond. Both are eligible for the death penalty and will be in court on September 21.

Eric Kuhn is grateful for the quick police work, but the charges bring little solace.

"Tomorrow I go to the wake. Thursday I go to a funeral. After that, I don't know," said Eric Kuhn.


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