Victim dies one month after beating

By Gus Bode

Coroner will determine whether Casper’s death should be considered murder

An 87-year-old Carbondale woman died Thursday from medical complications that family members say appeared after she was beaten so severely during a robbery that she lost her ability to speak.

Aileen Casper was able to provide the Carbondale Police Department with a description of her attacker before her death – a white man who forced his way into her home during broad daylight on June 12, beat her and stole her wallet.


The victim’s brother, Frank Yates, of Carbondale, said Casper lived at 510 S. Logan St. with her husband ever since World War II. She continued to live there even after the area transformed from a neighborhood of predominately family housing to rental properties on Carbondale’s east side.

Carbondale Deputy Police Chief Steve Odum said police are waiting for a Coroner’s Inquest to decide whether the case should be classified as a murder rather than a home invasion with great bodily harm.

The classification depends upon whether Casper died from injuries resulting from the beating – a determination that will be made by Jackson County Coroner Thomas Kupferer.

The only injuries officers observed following the incident were injuries to Casper’s arm, but Yates said his sister’s overall health condition deteriorated from the incident until her death Thursday at the Carbondale Nursing Home.

Odum said investigators are following up several leads that have developed since the incident, but that he “wouldn’t characterize any of them as really good.”

Police couldn’t speak with Casper immediately after the incident because the beating rendered her unable to speak, Yates said. Odum said detectives visited her several times since June 12, and have been able to piece together a description of the attacker and how he struck.

Odum said he thinks the person who attacked Casper did so because she was elderly and not as equipped to defend herself, though he added that’s only his speculation.


The fact that the neighborhood was predominately rental housing could have also had an effect on Casper’s vulnerability to crime, Odum said. He said neighborhoods where owners have lived in their houses for many years are generally safer, because everybody has an interest in the area’s safety. In the 500 block of South Logan Street where tenants move out and in everyday, that’s not the case.

“You don’t have neighbors that look out for each other,” Odum said. “There’s kind of an unknown group of people moving around in the neighborhood.”

Yates returned from his sister’s funeral Monday, which he characterized as large. He said Casper had many relatives on the Yates side of her family that showed up to pay their respects. Yates said that his sister lived alone in the neighborhood and took care of herself. He said his sister watched all of her friends move out of the neighborhood through the years until she was the only one left.

“She lived there for almost 60 years,” Yates said. “She didn’t deserve to go the way she did.”

Reporter Brett Nauman can be reached at [email protected]