Lindenhurst murder investigator: Call, coins tie suspect to crime

Updated 7/28/2011 5:35 PM
  • James Ealy

    James Ealy

Two key pieces of evidence pointed to James Ealy as a suspect in the days following the Nov. 27, 2006 murder of Mary Hutchison, a detective testified Thursday.

Dominic Cappelluti, a Waukegan officer who was assigned to the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force during the investigation, said Ealy's cellphone records show he called the Lindenhurst Burger King restaurant Hutchison managed the same day she was found dead there.

Investigators considered the call significant because Ealy, 46, had worked at the restaurant for more than a year and was aware of Hutchison's schedule. He left for another job about a month before the murder.

Police also found $40 in dimes and $70 in quarters inside Ealy's bedroom during a search of his Lake Villa apartment three days after the slaying, Cappelluti said.

Police previously said records from the restaurant showed the safe found open when Hutchison's body was discovered contained coins in those exact amounts.

The testimony came during a hearing Thursday on Ealy's effort to keep statements he made to police from being used against him in his still-unscheduled trial for first-degree murder.

Cappelluti said Ealy was brought to the Lake County Sheriff's office for questioning on the afternoon of Dec. 1, and declined to make any statements after being advised of his rights.

However, Cappelluti said, Ealy was more talkative as he was being driven to the sheriff's office. Cappelluti said Ealy remarked at one point during the trip that "Nothing good should happen to him because of the evil inside him."

Ealy began crying during the trip twice, Cappelluti said, and both times the detective said he went to wipe Ealy's eyes because he was handcuffed at the time.

Ealy also said that his "going back to jail was going to kill his wife," Cappelluti said.

Ealy was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1995 after being convicted of rape, and was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of the murders of four members of a Chicago family in 1982.

The 1982 conviction was thrown out by an appellate court that ruled police had improperly obtained a confession.

The hearing of the current motion will be continued on a date to be determined next month.