Pinckneyville Prison Death Sent To State Appellate Prosecutor’s Office, FBI

By Benjamin Cox on June 24, 2021 at 11:34am

The State Appellate Prosecutor’s Office has now gotten involved in the death of a West Central Illinois man in a southern Illinois prison.

Jennifer Mudge was named on Monday as the special prosecutor in the strangulation death of Earl Little. Mudge told the State Journal Register that she is planning to decide by the end of next week on whether charges should be filed in the case.

Judge James Campanella of Perry County Circuit Court signed an order Monday appointing Mudge special prosecutor at the request of Perry County State’s Attorney David Searby Jr. The SJR also learned the Illinois Department of Corrections had forwarded the investigation into Little’s death on to the FBI. The Perry County coroner has not listed Little’s death a homicide.

Little, formerly of Rushville and Quincy, was found dead in the top bunk of his prison cell which he shared with 34 year old Daneil Mueller of Springfield. Little’s family has said in interviews and in a federal wrongful-death lawsuit that they suspect Mueller strangled Little after an argument over a fan.

Little was serving a 21-year prison term for armed robbery and unlawful restraint involving a victim from Aurora. He entered the prison system five months before his death in July 2018. Mueller was serving a 30-year prison sentence for the 2012 strangulation murder of his girlfriend 25 year old Kayla Dillon of Springfield. Mueller was transferred from Pinckneyville to Menard Correctional Center after Little’s death and now is at Lawrence Correctional Center in southeastern Illinois.

Little’s family has said there has been little to no communication from authorities in the 3 years since the incident occurred. The family had been planning to stage a protest outside the prison in Pinckneyville and at the Perry County Courthouse on July 6th due to a lack of movement in the case.