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Press Release-Brownell Parole Decision 2019

Date: Thursday, March 28, 2019

March 28th, 2019

State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross


Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross announces that this morning, the Illinois Prisoner Review Board decided to keep a convicted killer incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections for the 1977 murder of Louis Betts and for an attack on another woman in Winnebago County. The Board voted unanimously to keep Curtis Brownell in prison, and they won’t allow him another opportunity to try for parole for another three years.  State’s Attorney Hite Ross and Boone County State’s Attorney Tricia Smith traveled to Dixon to join in the fight to keep Brownell in Prison in February. State’s Attorney Hite Ross released the following statement after the Prisoner Review Board announced that Mr. Brownell will stay behind bars. “Although it has been more than 33 years since Mr. Brownell was convicted of these heinous crimes, the impact of these crimes still resonate with the victims, their families, and the community. The attack on these two victims were not the first crimes Mr. Brownell committed against women, but they should certainly be his last.  When the court imposed a sentence of 100-300 years, the court sent a strong message that Mr. Brownell should spend the rest of his life in the Illinois Department of Corrections.”

 MHR And Smith In Springfield 2

Winnebago County State's Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross


Boone County State's Attorney Tricia Smith


In September of 1977, Curtis Brownell kidnapped Louise Betts, 17, while she was hitchhiking along North Second Street in Loves Park.  After picking her up, Brownell sexually assaulted, then murdered Betts whose body wasn’t found for several months in a rural Boone County field.  Before police found Betts’ body and arrested Brownell, he also tried to kill another Winnebago County woman.  She was seven months pregnant when Brownell abducted her from a Rockford Laundromat, sexually assaulted her and left her for dead. The victim and her baby survived the ordeal.


In 1978, Brownell was convicted and sentenced to 100 to 300 years in prison. Since his conviction Brownell has been denied parole more than a dozen times.  The next time Brownell will be eligible to attempt parole, will be in 2022. 


Alternative Justice & Outreach Coordinator

Katie Zimmerman


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