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UPDATED: Man Charged With Murder In Killing Of Peoria Surgeon

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Peoria Police
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Peoria County State's Attorney Jodi Hoos addresses the media at a press conference on Thursday, June 10, 2021.
Updated: June 10, 2021 at 4:32 PM CDT
Prosecutors say a man charged in the January stabbing death of a prominent retired Peoria surgeon is part of a traveling burglary group.

Prosecutors say a man charged in the January stabbing death of a prominent retired Peoria surgeon is part of a traveling burglary group.

Robert Ely, 54, was taken into custody Wednesday in St. Louis on a $5 million first-degree murder warrant. Ely is accused of killing Dr. William Marshall, 92, and is awaiting extradition to the Peoria County Jail.

“His crew would target the elderly, usually those who lived alone, and would use a ruse to enter people’s homes. Mr. Ely was good at what he did,” Peoria County State’s Attorney Jodi Hoos said during a Thursday afternoon news conference.

Marshall was found dead on the morning of Jan. 6 in his North Peoria home in the 500 block of East High Point Place. Marshall's death was Peoria's first homicide of 2021.

Ely also is accused of taking paintings from Marshall’s home. Hoos said the paintings were recovered in a storage unit rented under Ely's name, and a car linked to the murder scene as well as a knife also were recovered.

Hoos said senior citizens are frequently targeted by such burglary crews, and issued a warning to never let strangers into your home, no matter how friendly they may seem.

“People that live alone or people are that are elderly are hesitant to report these kinds of crimes,” said Hoos. “Maybe they're embarrassed or ashamed or feel guilty for being taken advantage of, and they don't often report crimes like this.”

Peoria police detectives were assisted in Ely's arrest by St. Louis police and agents from the FBI’s Springfield and St. Louis field offices.

Valerie Vasconez contributed to this report.

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