Police still seeking suspect in Princeton teen’s shooting death
PRINCETON, Ill. (KWQC) - Caleb Conrath was just around the corner from his 18th birthday when his family and police say his life need abruptly and violently.
The Princeton Police Department, with help from the U.S. Marshal’s Service, is still searching for Davijon Robinson, 18, of Kewanee, who is wanted in Conrath’s death.
“I think people in Kewanee know where he’s at, and people in Chicago know where he’s at,” Police chief Thomas Krammer told TV6 Investigates this week.
A ‘people person’
Conrath was someone with big dreams and a lot of energy, his mother, Tasha Hilmes, said.
“I have to get up to go to work about 5 a.m., and he’s usually still up,” she said. “I’d tell him ‘I love you, go to bed.’”
He wanted to be a professional skateboarder, Hilmes said.
“Skateboarding was his life,” she said.
To Alex Taylor-Marandola, Conrath was a positive, upbeat person with a lot of friends.
“He was just a people person,” Marandola said. “He liked being around people, liked making everybody happy, liked seeing people smile.”
People liked being around him, too, Hilmes said. She said she allowed her son to bring his friends over to the house whenever he wanted.
“I do have an open-door policy,” Hilmes said. “I do let people come in and out.”
Her open-door policy would usually provide him and his friends a safe space to hang out in. In this case, however, the policy allowed danger to come inside.
‘I knew something was up’
Robison was a familiar face to Hilmes and had been over to the house before.
However, when he came over on July 1, Hilmes said she felt suspicious.
“Every time someone comes in, they always say ‘hi’ to me and everything,” she said. “That day, he didn’t, and I knew something was up.”
A juvenile, who has not been identified, drove Robinson to Conrath’s house in a
dark Nissan Altima and parked outside. Police say the juvenile was waiting in the car while Robinson went inside.
Hilmes said she didn’t think anything of her suspicion until she started to hear a fight.
“Next thing I know, I heard ‘stop it, stop it,’ and then I heard a gunshot,” Hilmes said. “Then I heard another gunshot, and that’s when I got up, and that’s when I got shot when I went to the back bedroom.”
Conrath was shot three times, and Hilmes was struck once in the right shoulder.
“The one that killed him was the one after I got shot,” she said. “He jumped over me to go get [Robinson], and he got shot again, and that’s the one that killed him.”
According to Hilmes, Robinson was in the house for 13 minutes before fleeing away in the Nissan with the unknown minor.
Princeton police say they learned Robinson and his accomplice were headed towards Kewanee, and it wasn’t long before the car was located by Kewanee police.
“They were able to spot it coming into town, and when they tried to effect the traffic stop on it, they fled,” Krammer said. “They then drove the car into a wooded area, where they bailed out and ran. The juvenile later turned himself in, and Davijon has not been seen since.”
Gone just as quickly as he came, Conrath’s family said Robinson is still out there living his life somewhere while they are left blindsided and waiting for answers.
“What possessed him to do that? I mean, for what reason,” Taylor-Mandola said.
Police are just as baffled by the brutality of the situation over a young boy who they claim had little history or trouble with the law.
“He shot and killed this kid,” Krammer said. “He shot him three times, then he shot his mother.”
This is why Princeton police believe Robinson is armed, dangerous, and a threat to have on the streets.
Hilmes said she is left without a sense of closure to fully grieve the loss of her son.
“I now realize when I see this on the news how other parents feel,” she said. “I never thought it would happen to me until that day. So [Robinson] needs to be caught. He needs to get off the streets before it happens to somebody else.”
“He just gets to live his normal life and run around, do what he wants, and we are stuck here still grieving over it,” Taylor-Marandola said.
Police believe Robinson is somewhere in Kewanee, Chicago, or Georgia.
Princeton police ask anyone who knows of Robinson’s whereabouts to call them or the U.S. Marshals Service at 563-289-3454 or 1-800-336-0102.
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