Trial set for Palatine man charged in girl's 1997 slaying

 
 
Updated 6/9/2015 4:56 PM
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  • James P. Eaton, shown in a court appearance last year, is scheduled to face trial Nov. 2 on charges in the 1997 slaying of Amber Creek. The 14-year-old Palatine girl was found dead in a southeastern Wisconsin nature preserve about two weeks after she disappeared from a juvenile facility where she had been living.

    James P. Eaton, shown in a court appearance last year, is scheduled to face trial Nov. 2 on charges in the 1997 slaying of Amber Creek. The 14-year-old Palatine girl was found dead in a southeastern Wisconsin nature preserve about two weeks after she disappeared from a juvenile facility where she had been living. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer, 2014

  • James P. Eaton

    James P. Eaton

  • A photo of Amber Creek from her 13th birthday.

    A photo of Amber Creek from her 13th birthday.

A Nov. 2 trial date has been set for a Palatine man accused of murdering a 14-year-old suburban girl in 1997 then dumping her body in a southeastern Wisconsin nature preserve.

James P. Eaton, 37, faces charges of first-degree intentional homicide and hiding a corpse in connection with the killing of Amber Creek, a Palatine girl who disappeared in January 1997, after leaving a Chicago juvenile home where she had been living.

Her body was discovered about two weeks later in a secluded area of the Karcher Wildlife Area, located southwest of Racine. She'd been sexually assaulted and suffocated, and a plastic garbage bag was left over her head, according to court documents.

Eaton has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which could land him a life sentence if he's found guilty on both counts.

Racine County authorities arrested Eaton in Palatine in April 2014 after the murder went unsolved for 17 years. Authorities say their break in the case came when fingerprints found on the garbage bag matched Eaton's, and his DNA later matched saliva and semen samples taken from the crime scene.

Eaton has remained in custody at the Racine County jail for the 14 months since his arrest. He's next scheduled to appear in court Oct. 26 for a final pretrial hearing.

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