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Geneva graduate injured in severe beating in Rockford

Published: Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Aug. 16, 2013 6:53 a.m. CST

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James Burge, a 1988 graduate of Geneva High School who was severely beaten at his home in Winnebago County near Rockford, has been released from a Rockford hospital and is now home, his family said.

Burge, 44, suffered broken bones to his face and bleeding in his brain after an attack outside of his house on Oaklane Road, said his sister April Dodd, of Texas.

The incident occurred about 6:30 p.m. Saturday and involved a white man in a white vehicle, Winnebago County Deputy Chief Dominic Iasparro said. 

“We need to identify the person involved,” Iasparro said. “This is a full-scale investigation. This is a severe battery. … We’re trying to determine why it happened and who was involved.”

Burge’s wife, Julie, and neighbors have speculated Burge might have called out to a speeding driver to slow down, and it was that driver who beat him. But Iasparro said police cannot guess or speculate about what happened.

“That is why we are conducting an investigation as to why it happened,” Iasparro said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers at 888-769-7867.

Dodd said her brother went to a hospital with broken bones in his face, a detached earlobe and teeth knocked out. But said the broken bones were not shattered and will align and heal without surgery.

“His short-term memory is affected. His gross motor skills have taken a hit,” Dodd said.

“He stumbles when he walks. He does not remember the attack. He asked why he was in the hospital.

He continues to ask, ‘What happened to me?’ Yesterday he asked, ‘Why would anybody want to hurt me? Everybody likes me.’ “

Dodd said her family lived in the Naperville and Warrenville area before moving to Geneva in the 1960s.

She is the youngest of six, and her brother is the second-youngest who went to Geneva High School.

The family no longer lives in the area.

“My brothers were very well-known,” Dodd said. “Another brother was the tough guy. Jim was mild-mannered, a peacemaker.”

Julie Burge said they live “in the middle of nowhere” on a dead-end street with about a dozen houses on one side and a cornfield on the other. Up to 20 children play in the area and it is not unusual for her husband or other parents and neighbors to step up and call to a speeding driver to slow down.

She was not home when it happened, but heard the details from neighbors.

“I missed it by about five minutes,” Julie Burge said. 

“It was a white, four-door newer model [car] driven by a white man. The two main witnesses were kids. One of the kids’ grandfather saw the car fly by, and the guy was wearing a red baseball cap. One of the little boys told his grandfather to call 911, ‘Somebody is getting beat up.’ “

Julie Burge said her husband was not only beaten with fists, but dragged to a foxhole about 3 feet deep by 5 feet wide – built in a nearby cornfield by neighborhood boys.

The attacker put her husband down in the hole and then kicked him in the head repeatedly.

“It was very brutal and very quick,” she said. “It only took about five minutes, and then he jumped into his car and took off.”

To compound matters, James Burge was laid off from his job as a golf course manager and was looking forward to moving to Michigan, where he had a job offer. The family has no insurance, so Dodd set up a way for people to donate and help with the family’s medical bills and expenses.

Donations may be made online by following the prompts on Dodd’s website,  www.aprildodd.com.

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