Jimmy E. Eaton, a Palatine native who now lives in Utah, said his Facebook page "has blown up" this week since a former high school classmate with the same name was charged with murder.
"It's been a little worrisome," Jimmy E. Eaton said. "People have been saying all kinds of things on Facebook. Most of it has been humorous, but I am concerned that people will get the wrong impression. I have a family, I have a business. I want to make sure my name is clear."
James P. Eaton of Palatine appeared in a Racine County, Wis., courtroom Wednesday facing a first-degree murder charge in the 1997 slaying of 14-year-old Amber Creek. Authorities focused on James P. Eaton after his thumbprints matched prints found on a bag they believe Amber's killer had wrapped over her head.
James P. Eaton graduated from Fremd High School in Palatine in 1995, along with Jimmy E. Eaton.
"His locker was right next to mine, so I saw him every day." Jimmy E. Eaton said. "He actually seemed like a pleasant guy then."
Jimmy E. Eaton was a noted athlete in high school, playing on Fremd's baseball and football teams. He came from a family of nine children; at one point, he was one of four Eaton siblings attending Fremd at the same time, he said.
"A lot of people knew me, or at least knew my name, because of the athletics," he said. "That's another reason why I'm trying to make sure people understand that this awful news story isn't about me."
Jimmy was raised a Mormon, and after graduating from Fremd he spent two years doing missionary work in Venezuela. He was in Venezuela when Amber Creek was killed.
When he returned home in 1998, he enrolled at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where he earned a bachelor's degree in history.
Today, he runs a real estate firm, Eaton Real Estate, in Lehi, Utah. He has been married for 14 years and has six children.
"I still have family in the Chicago area; I try to visit a couple times a year," he said. "I feel terrible about what happened to that young girl. My prayers go out to her family."