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Police: No charges in Aurora’s Downer Place home incident

The home where Mike Stapelthis wife Susan Kendall were process moving out off when neighbors who thought home had been

The home where Mike Stapelton and his wife Susan Kendall were in the process of moving out off when neighbors, who thought the home had been abandon, went through and removed items. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 3, 2012 1:17PM

AURORA — Charges will not be filed against neighbors who entered and removed items from a home on West Downer Place that they believed was abandoned.

City spokesman Dan Ferrelli said Wednesday the criminal investigation into the Downer Place incident has been closed by the Aurora Police Department.

“The alleged victim in the case did not wish to pursue charges and none will be filed,” Ferrelli said.

Aurora Police Lt. Pete Inda said the victims’ decision not to press charges is the reason police aren’t pursuing the case.

“Without a complaining victim, the prosecution of any charges that were filed would be fruitless,” Inda said.

Although police could have filed charges without the victims’ cooperation, it would have weakened any possible prosecution. Prosecutors generally want to have victim cooperation for any charges that could go to trial.

On July 7, Mike Stapleton and his wife, Susan Kendall, moved most of their possessions out of their home in the 1000 block of West Downer Place in Aurora. The couple had made arrangements to turn the house over to the bank and were moving to Kansas. But when they returned on July 14 to get their remaining possessions, they discovered neighbors had cleaned up and cleaned out their house.

Stapleton said neighbors removed about $3,000 in property, including lawn care equipment, photos and other personal items. Some neighbors took the Stapletons’ possessions home with them, and other items were given to charity.

Stapleton said last week that he had not decided whether to press charges against his neighbors. He said the neighbors who entered his home called twice to ask “what will it take to make this go away?” Stapleton told them $20,000 on the advice of his attorney, he said.

The Stapletons could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Alderman Rick Lawrence, 4th Ward, said Wednesday he did not think charges should have been filed following the incident.

“I think the police did a good job with what they looked into,” Lawrence said. “I’m glad to see this being put behind this neighborhood. They are all good people.”

At a City Council meeting last week, Lawrence said that he entered the home, but that “was not the right decision.”

He said neighbors told him that the doors to the historic home were open, they believed it was abandoned and were concerned that food may be rotting inside.

“It was not done in malice. It was not the right decision to make in the end. They thought they were helping these people,” Lawrence said last week.

He said Wednesday there were a lot of public miscommunications about the case, but declined to elaborate.

“I’m not going to rehash that,” Lawrence said.

Neighbors have declined to speak with The Beacon-News.

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