DeKalb community still feels Keller’s death

By Faith Healy

Friday marked one year since student Antinette ‘Toni’ Keller disappeared.

On Oct. 14, 2010, Keller, a freshman art major, went missing. Keller told her friends around noon Oct. 14 she was going to Prairie Park to work on an art project. She never returned. On Oct. 15 Keller’s friends reported her missing.

Oct. 16, police found human remains in Prairie Park with some of Keller’s belongings nearby, but the remains were, at the time, unidentifiable. Authorities chose to wait until the remains could be identified as human before alerting the public. On Oct. 23, police announced that the remains were human. In January, the remains were positively identified as Keller’s.

Several weeks later, on Oct. 29, 2010, police arrested William P. Curl, 34, of DeKalb, and charged him with first-degree murder, criminal sexual assault and arson. Curl had fled to Mexico but was caught by federal marshals in Louisiana and returned to DeKalb. Curl came under suspicion by the police after he failed to appear for a scheduled interview. Curl has been charged with seven counts of murder and sexual assault and the case against him is ongoing.

One year later, many students still remember the incident and the effect it had on campus. For some students, like senior psychology major Alexia Newbern, Keller’s disappearance had a lasting effect.

“It has made me think more about walking around alone, especially … around places with no people,” Newbern said. “I feel pressure by my parents to make sure I tell someone when I leave the house. It definitely made me more cautious.”

Brian Hemphill, vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, reminds students that NIU needs to continue to move forward.

“As a community, we have faced many challenges and have experienced much loss. The loss of Antoinette Keller devastated the NIU community,” Hemphill said. “However, we will continue to move forward together, embodying true Huskie spirit, a spirit that calls forth a general sense of obligation, a duty of care for those within our campus and surrounding community.”