Peoria nightclub owner died of stab wounds; police seeking man on video

Matt Buedel GateHouse Media Illinois
Todd Scholl

Editor’s note: Todd Scholl was a 1984 graduate of Illinois Valley Central High School. Funeral services were Monday at Davison-Fulton Woolsey-Wilton Funeral Home with burial at the Apostolic Christian Church Cemetery in Peoria.

The body of a Downtown nightclub owner who invested heavily in the block adjacent to the new hotel development was found following a suspicious fire the night of Oct. 2 just around the corner from his businesses.

The blaze may have been intentionally set to cover the slaying of Todd Scholl, who owned Berlin and Diesel nightclubs and was found to have died from multiple stab wounds before the fire started, according to autopsy results.

Police have asked for the public’s help in identifying a man captured on video surveillance footage with Scholl around the time he was last seen alive, while a friend and colleague remembered him as a creative entrepreneur who worked hard to bring new venues of entertainment to the city’s nightlife scene.

The opening of Berlin late last year at 627 W. Main St., adjacent to his other club, Diesel, was representative of Scholl’s vision, according to Marcella Teplitz, the former City Councilwoman who knew him through personal and professional engagements for several years.

“(Berlin) spoke to what he saw as the future of Main Street — he saw it as very positive, with the new hotel and all the development going on down there,” Teplitz said. “You have to be a special person in that business because you have to work long hours and deal with people under happy and unhappy circumstances.”

Scholl told the Journal Star in November 2012 that he decided to go “all in” with the transformation of his building into Berlin after tenant SOP’s closed and gave up a lease it had since 2002.

“It will be a dance floor in every sense of the word,” Scholl said of his new endeavor weeks before it was scheduled to open. “(T)he hottest thing in the world right now is electronic dance music. The era of the nightclub is back.”

Authorities were called about 11:25 p.m. Oct. 2 to the apartment building at 105 SW Perry Ave., just around the corner from that nightclub, on reports of smoke in the upstairs units. Emergency responders found flames in a first-floor storage area where Scholl kept miscellaneous items for his establishments.

Firefighters discovered the body while conducting a search of the premises. Residents of the apartment building were evacuated but allowed to return to their homes after the flames were extinguished. The fire was contained to Scholl’s storage area, and no other injuries were reported, according to the Peoria Fire Department.

An official cause of the fire remained under investigation later in the day Thursday, but the blaze was being examined as a possible arson, police and firefighters said.

Scholl was pronounced dead at 12:34 a.m. Thursday at the scene, according to Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll. Blood tests confirmed Scholl had died before smoke and flames overtook the storage suite, and the autopsy showed he had been stabbed multiple times. An inquest will be scheduled at a later date.

Police reviewed video surveillance footage from Scholl’s bar and other businesses in the area and released still images of a man they are seeking for questioning in connection with the death.

“We’ll call him a person of interest,” said Peoria police Capt. Mike Eddlemon. “We’d like to talk to him.”

Anyone with information on the man’s identity or other details of the slaying is asked to call the Peoria Police Department at 673-4521 or CrimeStoppers at 673-9000.