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Illinois police probe Springfield mayor's death

By Matt Smith, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The mayor was found dead in his home Tuesday morning
  • Alderman says Springfield was "stunned" by the news
  • Davlin had been ordered into court in an estate lawsuit
  • The IRS had also placed a lien on his home for unpaid taxes

(CNN) -- The mayor of Springfield, Illinois, was found dead in his home Tuesday morning, the day he had been ordered to present an accounting of his cousin's estate to a judge.

Illinois State Police say they are looking into the death of Mayor Tim Davlin, and no cause of death was disclosed Tuesday. Frank Kunz, a Springfield alderman who serves as mayor pro tem, said investigators "didn't say much of anything" at a news conference held shortly after Davlin was found dead in his home.

"Basically, what they confirmed was, it was the mayor, and he's dead," Kunz said. "They actually didn't say much of anything."

The 53-year-old, two-term Democrat was scheduled to appear before a judge Tuesday morning and account for the balance of his cousin's $845,000 estate, for which he served as executor. Margaret Ettelbrick, who died in 2003, had willed the remainder of her estate to Springfield Catholic Charities after leaving $635,000 to other beneficiaries, court documents show.

In May, Catholic Charities told the court it had received only a partial payment of $25,000. The same month, the Internal Revenue Service filed a lien against Davlin's home, seeking nearly $90,000 in back taxes from 2003, 2005 and 2006, according to property records.

In September, Davlin's lawyer quit, telling the court that the mayor had not provided him with the needed paperwork to account for the balance of the estate. Davlin told the judge last week that he had hired a new attorney, and he was ordered to report back to court Tuesday.

In November, Davlin announced that he would not seek a third term in 2011. Kunz said the city of about 115,000 was "stunned" by news of his death.

"Even when they had a press conference, they weren't sure all the relatives had been notified," he said. "But he was the mayor, so they had to do something."

Kunz said city council members would name a new mayor at some point, but officials were still examining the laws governing mayoral succession. The city's administrative staff remains intact, and "If they had to sign anything, I can sign it," he said.

Davlin was divorced and had four children. Police were called to his home about 8:50 a.m. and found the mayor "unresponsive," Springfield Police Chief Robert Williams said. He was declared dead soon afterward, and the investigation was turned over to state police, he said.

"It's very early," Illinois State Police Capt. James Wolf said. "And as information develops and we are in a position to provide the media with more information, we will do so."

CNN's Kara Devlin contributed to this report.