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Aurora Minister And Civil Rights Leader Found Beaten To Death

July 23, 1988 GMT

AURORA, Ill. (AP) _ A minister active in the civil rights movement was found beaten to death Friday in his church hours after he returned from the Democratic convention, and police charged a nearby resident with murder.

The Rev. Robert Wesby, 61, who headed the branch of Operation PUSH in this Chicago suburb, was killed with a ″large, sharp instrument,″ Kane County Coroner Mary Lou Kearns said.

Associates described Wesby as a longtime friend or colleague of Democratic presidential contender Jesse Jackson, founder of Chicago-based Operation PUSH. Wesby was not listed as a Jackson delegate, but had apparently gone to the convention to support Jackson.

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Wesby’s body was found shortly before 10 a.m., about two hours after he returned from Atlanta, said Becky Jones, who was answering telephones at his Progressive Baptist Church, about 35 miles west of Chicago. Wesby founded the church 25 years ago.

Late Friday night, police acting on a tip arrested Calvin Green, 28, at his home about two blocks from the church and charged him with murder, said police Capt. Lou Beatus. He said police were still trying to determine a motive for the slaying. The suspect is black, as was the victim.

Green was scheduled for a bond hearing Saturday, Beatus said.

Kearns said Wesby died immediately after being attacked. No weapon was found.

Police found the body near the altar of the church after responding to a call that Wesby had been beaten, said police Lt. Don McDonald.

Later Friday, Wesby’s friends and supporters, including Aurora Mayor David Pierce, gathered outside the church to grieve.

″You couldn’t find anyone better than that man. Any time, night or day, Rev. Wesby would come and give anyone any help they needed,″ said Odell Smith, a longtime friend.

A Chicago native, Wesby was the recipient of Aurora’s first Community Leadership Award in November 1985.