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home : news : north central illinois   May 24, 2016

4/4/2013 9:44:00 AM
Authorities probe death of 'finest person in Ottawa'(UPDATE)

Authorities including La Salle County coroner Jody Bernard (second from right) remove a body discovered Wednesday morning behind Herman’s Package Store, just west of downtown Ottawa. NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
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Authorities including La Salle County coroner Jody Bernard (second from right) remove a body discovered Wednesday morning behind Herman’s Package Store, just west of downtown Ottawa.

NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
Tom Collins
NewsTribune Senior Reporter

OTTAWA — The victim in Wednesday’s shooting death has been identified as Joseph Ferrero, co-owner of Herman’s Package Store in Ottawa.
But authorities still have not confirmed that Ferrero’s death was a homicide — and have not issued a public call for leads to identify a suspect — despite an intense and sweeping search for evidence in and around the scene.
Ferrero’s body was removed from the rear of Herman’s, located at 504 W. Main St., Ottawa, around 12:35 p.m., about 2½ hours after witnesses found him and alerted Ottawa police.
Scanner traffic heard around the time of the 10:08 a.m. report indicated police were actively searching for a gun. Police wearing latex gloves were later seen rifling through garbage bins and scaling ladders to neighboring rooftops in an apparent search for a weapon.
Additionally, a man who exited nearby Muffy’s Tap was overheard to say that Ottawa police had obtained surveillance footage from Muffy’s rear-facing security camera and may have identified a subject leaving Herman’s. The man did not identify himself and declined to answer questions.
La Salle County Jail issued its daily intake report today and there has not yet been an apprehension.
Meanwhile, friends and colleagues remembered Ferrero as a genteel businessman and expressed horror at his slaying.
Patti Hall, owner of Rudy’s Liquors in La Salle, recalled a “quiet, hardworking” man who was decidedly not materially driven. Ferrero eschewed buying new vehicles, she said, and was content with what he had.
“He was really a good guy,” Hall said. “He always greeted you with a smile, real personable. He always inquired about my daughter.”
Hall said she heard a few of the emerging details about Ferrero’s death and called it “a senseless occurrence.” There has been speculation Ferrero was killed during a robbery and Hall asserted she couldn’t “imagine him putting up a struggle.”
“Everybody in the industry is just devastated,” she said.
Ferrero was a big fan of the Chicago White Sox and joined the Utica Fireside White Sox Club about three years ago. In a phone interview, club president Ron Chalus of rural Utica choked up remembering his friend.
“He was just a joy to be around,” Chalus said. “He always had a smile, he always had a greeting and he’d help anybody.”
Chalus said he and his fellow club members were in shock.
“It’s unbelievable to see somebody like that go at the point of a gun,” he said. “And why Joe? He had to be the finest person in Ottawa.”

Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or

Related Stories:
• Foul play ruled out in Ottawa death

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