Authorities charge man in Illinois church shooting

MARYVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A man was charged with murder Monday for allegedly shooting a southern Illinois pastor through the heart during Sunday services.

Terry J. Sedlacek, 27, of Troy, was charged with two counts each of first-degree murder and aggravated battery, said Stephanee Smith, spokeswoman for Madison County Prosecutors William Mudge.

The gunman strode into First Baptist Church shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday, exchanged words with the Rev. Fred Winters., then fired a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol until it jammed.

Winters, 45, later died of a single shot to the heart, the coroner said Monday. Authorities did not comment on a possible motive or on the gunman's mental state.

"We're still not sure what the reasoning was," Illinois State Police Lt. Scott Compton said Monday.

Sedlacek once suffered bouts of erratic behavior his family said was due to Lyme disease. One expert said it would be unlikely that the tick-borne illness would make someone so violent.

"Lyme disease doesn't cause people to shoot people," said Dr. Eugene Shapiro, a Lyme disease expert at Yale University.

A judge ordered Sedlacek held without bond as he remained hospitalized in serious condition from self-inflicted stab wounds. He allegedly pulled out a knife after the attack and was wrestled to the ground by worshippers who tackled him, police said, and all three were wounded.

Sedlacek was featured last year in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article detailing his battle with Lyme disease. In the article, his mother said the disease left lesions on his brain and that doctors had diagnosed him as mentally ill before discovering the disease.

In the August 2008 article, Ruth Abernathy said her son was taking several medications and had difficulty speaking after contracting the tick-borne illness. A phone call to a number listed for Robert and Ruth Abernathy in Troy rang unanswered Monday.

Untreated Lyme disease can spread to the bones, heart and nervous system. It can cause brain inflammation and in rare cases, problems with concentration and short-term memory, and sleep disturbances, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web site.

Other rare nervous-system symptoms include severe headaches and neck stiffness, which can be treated with antibiotics, Shapiro said. There are also isolated reports of hallucinations and psychotic illness blamed on Lyme disease.

But these are controversial and some experts, including Shapiro, believe affected people likely had pre-existing mental problems or were misdiagnosed and never had Lyme disease.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)