LOVES PARK (WIFR) -- The man who raped and murdered a Loves Park teen more than 36 years ago could get out of prison; Curtis Brownell is up for parole again.
"She was a little tomboy."
The memories are flowing again for Gary Betts but they're not all good.
"It doesn't get any easier at all, it just brings up the pain, the heartache, like it was just yesterday again," says Betts.
On September 27, 1977 Gary's soon-to-be 17-year-old sister Louise Betts, was kidnapped, raped and murdered while hitchhiking along N. Second St. in Loves Park. Her body was found six months later in Boone County. Curtis Brownell was convicted and sentenced for the crime; he's now up for parole for the 14th time.
"There's always that concern that he's going to be released again. Just the thought of him to potentially get out and to do this again and bring that pain on to somebody else, it's just heart-wrenching to think about something like that," said Gary Betts.
That's why Gary's family, friends and even complete strangers are signing petitions to keep Brownell in prison.
"Your time is a precious commodity and something even as simple as signing a petition, taking the time to do that, it shows their sympathy and that they truly care and that's very encouraging," explained Betts.
More than two-thousand people have signed their names in support, even some of Louise's friends who got word on Facebook.
People can sign petitions through March first. They're posted in area businesses like Doc's Diner in Loves Park and Butitta Brothers Auto Repair sites. You can also sign a petition electronically on the Rockford Register Star's website, by clicking the link below.
Both Brownell's hearing and his protest hearing will be held March 11th and a decision is expected March 27th.