SWANSEA — Residents of the quiet street where retired Illinois State Police trooper David Daughtrey was found dead Tuesday remembered him as the neighborhood nice guy.
Jessica Motsinger, who lived across the street from the Daughtrey residence, agreed that David Daughtrey, 61, always put a smile on her face with his friendliness.
"When I saw him he always had a smile and a wave," Motsinger said. "Even when he was having a tough time with things, you wouldn't know it."
Daughtrey had a stroke a few years ago that forced him to get around in a wheelchair or the use of a cane. Still, he kept active with a job at Walmart where he was a greeter and it seemed to make him happy to chat with shoppers. In addition to his health issues, David's wife, Helen, died in March at 49 years old from cancer.
Dawn and Scott Schaefer said Daughtrey was always outside tinkering around, especially in his backyard garden when he moved into his Swansea neighborhood a little more than a decade ago.
"He was very proud of his garden," she said. "He would call us over to look at some new plant he grew every once in awhile."
But after a stroke a few years ago, Daughtrey couldn't work in the yard and the couple saw him less.
"After that, we'd mostly see him coming or going in his van," Dawn Schaefer said. "He'd always wave and say hi. And he loved to talk to my nine-year-old son. We'd talk to him whenever we'd see him at Walmart."
It wasn't a surprise that they hadn't seen him for a few days, the last time on Sunday.
Scott Schaefer said he never saw any problems between the elder Daughtrey and his son.
"It was hard to tell sometimes if the son still lived there," he said. "You wouldn't see him much outside except in the summertime when it was grass cutting time."
Dawn Schaefer said she sometimes saw the younger Daughtrey come and go in his dad's car.
"He wasn't as friendly," she said. "It's not that he was mean or nasty. He just didn't say hi or wave."
Scott Schaefer said his family was shocked to see police cars in the neighborhood Tuesday night.
"First there were two or three police cars," Scott Schaefer said. "Then there were four, then five, then six. Then I started to put things together that his car was gone and we hadn't seen him for a while. It's sad. I would have never expected it."
Police found Daughtrey's adult son, Jarad Wednesday morning at the Trailway Motel in Fairview Heights were they were in contact with him briefly. When they lost communication with the younger Daughtrey, officers entered the room where he was staying and found him dead.
Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at email@example.com or call 239-2626.