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Softball coach charged with murder in ‘72 death of downstate child

Gary Allyn Warwick former assistant softball coach Purdue North Central who resigned this past spring has been charged with murder

Gary Allyn Warwick, a former assistant softball coach at Purdue North Central who resigned this past spring, has been charged with murder in the 1972 death of a child in downstate Illinois. | Photo provided/Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 13, 2013 8:56PM

A former assistant Indiana college softball coach has been charged with murder in the death of a child nearly 41 years ago in downstate St. Clair County.

Gary Allyn Warwick, 62, was arrested Thursday by members of the U.S. Marshals Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force, along with Portage, Ind., police and St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson.

The arrest occurred without incident at a Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Portage, a spokeswoman for the task force said.

Warwick was charged in a criminal complaint with murder in the death of Joseph Henry Abernathy III. The baby was found Dec. 30, 1972.

Bail is set at $5 million.

Last spring, Warwick was an assistant softball coach at Purdue University North Central, in Westville, Ind., and a full-time coach for the Indiana Raiders girls travel softball program, according to a Purdue North Central website. He is a married father of two adult daughters and has three grandchildren, the website said.

In April 1973, Warwick was initially indicted in the case and a trial date was set, but Warwick’s attorney sought a delay, citing his client’s medical problems. The case was then dismissed without explanation through an order issued in September 1974.

A cold-case investigation was launched by St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly and Watson after receiving petitions from an online campaign and being made aware of a YouTube video created by the child’s family.

If convicted, Warwick would face at least 14 years in prison, with a maximum sentence of up to 300 years, according to 1973 sentencing guidelines.

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