Carbondale police chief fired

By Tara Kulash

The Carbondale chief of police has been fired.

City Manager Kevin Baity announced Monday in a press release that he is dismissing Jody O’Guinn from his position and naming Deputy Chief Jeff Grubbs as interim police chief. Grubbs was previously deputy chief of administration.

“I have full faith and confidence in Deputy Chief Grubbs’ ability to lead the police department,” Baity said in the statement.

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There is no timeline to find a permanent replacement for O’Guinn, who began his post in June 2009.

In June 2011, O’Guinn’s handgun was stolen out of his car and he did not report it for a week. Once he did report the theft, Carbondale police initially filed it as an animal control issue. Three months later the weapon was used in a murder in the city, leading to the sentencing of Matthew Jones for the death of Deaunta Spencer, 20.

Investigation of the circumstances surrounding the theft and how the police department handled it continues.

O’Guinn oversaw the department in March of 2012, when Molly Young, 21, died of a gunshot wound to the head. She was in the Carbondale apartment of Richie Minton, who was a Carbondale police dispatcher at the time. Minton faced no charges in the death.

Then SIU student Pravin Varughese went missing in February. The 19-year-old ran into the woods along Illinois 13 after having a conflict with another person. His body was found five days later and the public has since questioned the police department’s handling of the case.

Baity made clear in his statement that O’Guinn’s dismissal is not related to the recent incidents.

“I want to stress that my decision to dismiss Chief O’Guinn is a confidential matter and has nothing to do with the unsolved cases or recent litigation filed against the city and the chief,” he said in the release. “Any assumptions/allegations to this effect are completely unfounded.”

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