ALEDO, Illinois -Neighbors, friends, and even strangers are pitching in to boost the reward fund in a brutal home invasion in Mercer County this week.
Fred Rooth, 83, of rural Joy was found severely beaten inside his farmhouse on Monday afternoon. Since then he has had several facial reconstruction surgeries, and has a long road to recovery.
"I want to catch them, I want to catch them real bad, " said Mercer County Sheriff Dave Staley.
The Mercer County community wants the culprit caught, too. Rooth is a veteran, lifelong farmer, widower, former President of the Mercer County Board, and just an all-around great guy.
Since Wednesday, folks have been writing $100 checks to boost the reward fund to try and find out who left Fred for dead.
"We live in this community, a lot of us, our whole lives. This could have been anybody, not just Fred. Anybody, and I think we would just like to show whoever did this, we're not gonna stand for this, " said Doug Kiddoo, a local farmer and businessman who is helping with the effort.
Crimestoppers offers a $1,000 reward, but the goal is for 100 people to donate $100, and sweeten the fund ten-fold, to entice someone who has information about the crime, to "tell".
A residential safe was among the items taken in the home invasion.
Sheriff Staley says he and his small but dedicated staff of deputies are working hard and welcome the community's efforts to build the reward.
"That's how we're gonna solve this. We don't have a smoking gun, we don't have a bloody knife. We are going to have to dig this one on our own and that's going to take some time," he said.
Staley said Rooth was able to speak for the first time on Thursday.
In the meantime, a steady stream of local folks headed to the Sheriff's Department to drop off checks.
"I live alone and it worries me to death about what has happened to Mr. Rooth, " said Sandy Tisor, a retired educator.
"He's a good guy."