Boy charged with attempted murder; victim critical, stable

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Josh Harkins was stabbed once in the back below the left arm, puncturing his lung.

WARE, Ill. -- An 11-year-old boy was charged with attempted murder Wednesday following a Tuesday night stabbing which left the victim in critical but stable condition.

The 11-year-old victim, who neighbors identified as Josh Harkins, was taken to the hospital by helicopter Tuesday night, according to Union County State's Attorney Allen James. James refused to release the names of either the victim or the suspect.

The suspect was taken into custody at the scene, James said. He was being held Wednesday at the Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center.

A juvenile charge of attempted murder has been filed. The suspect would not be sent to a state youth correctional center because he is under age 13. At most, James said, the suspect could do a term of 30 days in a county juvenile detention center, be placed under foster care and serve probation until he is 18.

The knife, which James said was part of the suspect's knife collection, also was taken from the scene.

The stabbing occurred at about 7 p.m. Tuesday, while Harkins, his brother and a friend were fishing off of a bridge in Ware, and the suspect and another boy pulled up on bicycles, James said. After getting into an argument, the suspect allegedly used a pocketknife with a 4-inch blade to stab the victim once in the back below the left arm, puncturing his lung and narrowly missing his heart. Both the victim and the suspect live in Ware, a small unincorporated town near Jonesboro, Ill.

James said he wants to help the suspect as much as possible. "We have the interests of the victim to look after, but at the same time, this is a minor child, and we're not interested in what we can do to him, but what we can do for him," James said.

Brittainy Harkins, Josh Harkins' twin sister, said she and a friend were shopping at a yard sale Tuesday when a neighbor said she had heard over her police scanner about an 11-year-old getting stabbed. Brittainy said she knew her brother was out fishing and thought immediately of him.

"It just broke my heart because I knew it was him," she said.

She said local children often go fishing at the bridge, which they call the Fishing Spot. Sometimes she and Josh would share a pole at the Fishing Spot, she said.

Katy Ferguson, a neighbor, said no adults were with the children at the time of the stabbing. Ferguson, who was watching Brittainy Harkins on Wednesday while the rest of the family was at the hospital, said this wasn't out of the norm.

"There is no adult supervision over there, which there should have been," she said. "I've let my girls go fishing over there more than once, but I check on them constantly."

Ferguson, who is originally from St. Louis, said Ware is a quiet town that has never really experienced anything like this before.

"I moved 10 years ago to get away from the bad things in the city, and here I come and find it right in my backyard," she said.

The suspect's mother refused to comment.

Attempts to reach Harkins' parents at the hospital were unsuccessful.

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