Lake Villa Township resident William Christopher Pettry and a friend were chatting with two women in a Jacksonville, Fla., bar over the weekend when trouble began to brew, authorities said Monday.
Speaking at a news conference, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Lt. Rob Schoonover said Matthew Hinson arrived at Fionn MacCool's Irish Pub and Restaurant about 12:30 a.m. Sunday and saw his wife talking to Pettry. Schoonover said Hinson appeared "jealous" and "enraged" when he approached Pettry, 42.
"At this point, we don't know what words were exchanged, because it was just the victim and the suspect sitting on a bench inside the bar and a witness just said (Hinson) stood up, cut (Pettry) and basically walked out," Schoonover said.
Pettry, who lived in unincorporated Lake County near Lake Villa and was in Jacksonville to attend Sunday's Bears-Jaguars game, died at a hospital from wounds he suffered after Hinson slashed his throat with a pocket knife, Schoonover said.
Pettry and the friend were in Fionn MacCool's for "a few hours" before the attack, Schoonover said. Authorities declined to identify the friend or the two women.
Bears coach Lovie Smith reacted to the slaying during a news conference Monday.
"Like we talked last week, our fans were outstanding," Smith said. "As I said yesterday, from the hotel throughout the game and we had a lot of people that came down to support us. Chris Pettry is one of them. One of our loyal supporters that was killed as he came to Jacksonville to support his favorite team, so our prayers definitely go out to his family."
Hinson, 27, of Jacksonville, confessed to the stabbing and was charged with murder, police said. Sheriff's spokeswoman Melissa Bujeda said Hinson is held without bond at the Jacksonville Pre-Trial Detention Facility, with a court date set for Oct. 30.
Schoonover said Pettry and a friend were staying at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront and visited Fionn MacCool's in a nearby shopping and entertainment area Saturday night. Schoonover said the attack had nothing to do with the Bears or other sports.
After the calm and "coldblooded" stabbing of Pettry, Schoonover said, officers quickly arrived in the area and pulled over Hinson as he drove his truck from a parking lot near the tavern. Authorities said they found the pocket knife in Hinson's vehicle and scuffled with him when he initially resisted arrest.
Fionn MacCool's general manager, Paul Glaser, said the family-oriented, Irish-themed establishment was busy Saturday night and attracted many Bears fans who were staying at the Hyatt near the Jacksonville Landing development. He said the restaurant's thoughts and prayers are with the Pettry family.
Glaser said he was working when the stabbing occurred in a waiting area and that it wasn't even noticed by patrons who were five feet away. He said there was no yelling until someone noticed blood on the floor where Pettry's throat was slashed.
"I was in the dining room and I heard someone yell, 'Call 911, call 911,'" Glaser said Monday.
Glaser praised three men for jumping into action before paramedics arrived and trying to administer first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation to Pettry. He said some women who identified themselves as nurses also attempted to help Pettry.
"Some really good, stand-up people stepped up," Glaser said.
Karen Pettry and her husband, commonly known as Chris, were involved in Mastiff breeding. The couple operated Kharisma Mastiffs from their Lake Villa Township address.
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office officials said Hinson told investigators that he had served in the U.S. military, but they were unable to immediately verify the claim. Authorities said Hinson does not have a criminal history.
• Daily Herald staff writer Bob LeGere contributed to this report.