Southern IL couple still waiting for reward money from FBI

Couple waiting for a reward
Published: Mar. 30, 2018 at 4:54 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 30, 2018 at 10:33 AM CDT
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GOLCONDA, IL (KFVS) - Almost two years ago, in early May, Dracy Pendleton went on the run after shooting an Illinois Police Officer in Pope County.

He tried escaping in the Shawnee National Forest. On May 7, 2016, the FBI staged a manhunt and put out a $10,000 reward for anyone who had information leading to his capture.

Pastor John Kunath and his wife, Bunny, keep things going at Sulphur Springs Baptist Church in Eddyville. When they noticed bloodied gauze in the church's trash can, a backpack full of canned goods that the pantry was missing and a chair by the back window with a view of the parking lot, they thought they had the kind of information the FBI was looking for.

Knowing about the manhunt going on in their area, the Kunaths called Sheriff Jerry Suits, saying they thought Pendleton was hiding out in their church on Friday, May 13.

Sheriff Suits said he sent deputies out to interview the Kunaths and retrieve the bloodied gauze for evidence. Afterward, he said he called Illinois State Police, who alerted the FBI once he suspected Pendleton was in the area.

Suits was told the manhunt was close to shutting down in the area when the FBI was alerted.

That Sunday, May 15, the Kunaths say they were contacted by local authorities and told to not have their scheduled service. When John asked why he was told it was unsafe.

On that same day, a shootout broke out between Pendleton and SWAT teams in an abandoned house not far from the church, ending in Pendleton's death.

Shortly after the chaos ended, John and Bunny heard about the reward and filed the necessary paperwork with the FBI. They say they didn't hear back for several weeks and then received a letter declining their request. According to the letter, there was no documentation of their information directly leading to Pendleton's apprehension.

Since then, the Kunaths have sought the help of multiple agencies to try to get the reward money, including Illinois Congressman John Shimkus. To this day, they still haven't seen a dime.

The Kunaths said they don't just want to make a quick ten grand, but do want to make some much-needed repairs.

"We don't want it. I wouldn't take the money for myself," Bunny said, "There's a lot of things that need fixing, and we're just a small country church. When we get $200 in collections, we're doing good."

"They probably did $500-600 worth the damage while they were here, the FBI and State Police," John added talking about damages like busted in doors.

They didn't have any contempt for Pendleton breaking into their church and eating donated food. They said they talked to his parents after everything was said and done. They found out that Pendleton was raised going to church but "got away from it."

Both John and Bunny thought Pendleton was incredibly tidy while he was hiding out in the church. They said he didn't leave any litter behind, wiped the counters and even cleaned the microwave while he was there.

Bunny said after she saw the way he treated the church in his final days and talked to Pendleton's parents, she thought he was raised right but took a wrong turn somewhere.

The Kunaths say they wish Pendleton could have been talked out of the shootout but hope something good comes out of the whole situation. Like getting the reward money and fixing up their church.

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