Prosecutor confirms man fatally shot in Ottawa was an intruder

Martin cautions autopsy, investigation still pending

The La Salle County State’s Attorney’s Office on Monday confirmed that a homeless man was an intruder in a South Side Ottawa subdivision home at the time he was shot and killed last week.

But state’s attorney Todd Martin emphasized that he and investigators still are awaiting autopsy results and have yet to reach any binding conclusions on the death of 34-year-old Matthew E. Cavanagh, who was fatally shot last Wednesday at a residence in the 800 block of Tomahawk Drive.

“I can confirm there was an intruder in the house that resulted in a shooting,” Martin said in a brief statement, “but we’re still investigating.”

Cavanagh, who has past addresses in Ottawa and Streator, has a criminal record that includes a past conviction for criminal sexual abuse, according to public records. He was required to register as a sex offender after a drawing a 3-year prison sentence for criminal sexual abuse committed in 2010, when he was 22 years old and the female victim was 14, according to public records and authorities.

Cavanagh appears in the state Sex Offender Registry as a non-compliant offender. He was three times convicted of felonies for failure to comply with the terms and conditions of the Sex Offender Registry Act, records show.

Two convictions were in La Salle County. In 2014, he failed to notify Peru authorities of his whereabouts after creating a Facebook account under an assumed name. Three years later, while homeless, he took up residence within 500 feet of a child daycare center.

He was placed on probation for a 2019 charge of failing to register as a sex offender in Bureau County; but authorities granted him permission to be supervised by La Salle County’s probation department.

Tom Collins

Tom Collins

Tom Collins covers criminal justice in La Salle County.