Top crime stories of 2022: Mayhem and heartbreak defined the year in suburban crime
A mass shooting on July 4 in Highland Park, during which a lone shooter stood atop a building firing nearly 90 rounds at parade spectators and participants, shocked the nation.
Killed in the shooting were Highland Park residents Katherine Goldstein, 64; Stephen Straus, 88; Jacquelyn "Jacki" Sundheim, 63; and husband and wife Kevin and Irina McCarthy, 37 and 35, respectively, as well as Nicolas Toledo-Zaragoza, 78, of Morelos, Mexico, and Eduardo Uvaldo, 69, of Waukegan. More than 50 people, ranging in age from eight to 88, were wounded.
Robert Crimo III was charged with 21 counts of first-degree murder, three for each of the seven people killed by gunfire; 48 counts of attempted murder; and 48 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm for each person struck by a bullet, bullet fragment or shrapnel.
Officials believe Crimo planned the attack for weeks, and said he confessed to Highland Park police that he'd worn women's clothing and makeup to conceal his identity and help him carry out the attack and initially avoid capture. Authorities say he fled to the Madison, Wisconsin, area where he contemplated attacking another Independence Day celebration but decided against it, police said. After discarding his cellphone in Middleton, Wisconsin, the accused returned to Illinois and was apprehended by North Chicago Police and Lake County Sheriff's officers at around 6:30 p.m., more than eight hours after the shooting began.
After nearly six months, the criminal case against him is still in the early stages, with lawyers on both sides still sorting out thousands of pages of evidence. In December the defendant's father was charged with seven counts of reckless endangerment, one for each person killed, because he helped his son apply for a FOID card in 2019 despite his troubled past.
• For one of the most gruesome crimes in recent memory, Brian Peck was sentenced to 62½ years in prison for the 2017 murder and dismemberment of his mother, dog lover and theater enthusiast Gail Peck, 76, in her Elgin home. Peck, who is 6 feet tall, claimed he killed his mother -- a breast cancer survivor who had undergone several back surgeries and was 5 foot, 4 inches tall -- in self-defense after he said she attacked him with a military-style knife for playing his music too loud.
Peck placed some of his mother's remains into plastic garbage bags and tossed them into Lake Michigan at Montrose Harbor. He placed her other remains into a rolling suitcase and a duffle bag, which he threw into Chicago's Lincoln Park Lagoon, then reported her missing.
• Painstaking investigation by Mount Prospect police that involved coordinating business surveillance videos, photographs, red-light camera video and cellphone records led to the arrest and conviction of Paul Zalewski of Mount Prospect, who murdered Vladimir Esquivel of Arlington Heights on Feb. 15, 2018, in a drug deal gone wrong. Esquivel's body was found in his burned out car in a Mount Prospect apartment complex early on Feb. 15, 2018. Sgt. William Ryan testified for more than five hours about the old-fashioned, shoe-leather police work that led to Zalewski's arrest days after the murder.
• A 15-year-old girl was injured and 20-year-old Joel Valdes of Skokie was killed during a March 25, 2022, shooting at the Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont. According to authorities, Valdes flashed gang signs at a group of people that included 18-year-old Jose G. Matias of Chicago. A member of the group told Valdes they were not gang members, at which point Valdes flashed a weapon, prosecutors said.
Later, in a hallway, Valdes confronted a member of Matias' group. Surveillance video shows Matias pulling out a handgun and firing six shots into the hallway. He has been charged with first-degree murder.
• A six-year-old boy was killed when the SUV he was riding in with his six siblings struck a concrete median on I-90, traveled across four lanes and flipped over last June. Authorities say the boy's mother, Doniqua Hilliard, 37, of Rockford, was traveling 94 mph seconds before the June 2022 crash. Hilliard was charged with aggravated DUI involving a death and aggravated DUI causing an accident or great bodily harm after authorities determined she had marijuana in her system.
• Two men from Joliet and Minooka are charged with first-degree murder, home invasion and residential burglary in the May 2022 death of 58-year-old Fred Boerma in his Hanover Park home. Officers discovered Boerma's body in response to a report of an argument at the home. Brandon Beamish, 27, and Scott Smierciak, 25, are being held without bail at Cook County jail.
• In May, parts of the vacant Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, including its main 13-story tower, went up in flames. In July, authorities charged two teenage boys with arson, burglary, criminal damage to property and trespassing. They are accused of setting office papers on fire in a bathtub, and starting a fire on a second site. Two others were charged with trespassing. At their first court hearing, prosecutors said the four -- all related to each other -- had repeatedly gone to the resort and broke in to the rooms. A week before the fire, they threw a bed and other items out of an upper window of the tower, according to prosecutors. One of the defendants recorded the fire-setting and the furniture incident and posted videos on TikTok and Snapchat.
• In June, a Naperville police officer shot and killed a man who approached the officer while carrying a hatchet. DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin ruled that the officer was justified in shooting Edward Samaan of Naperville because he had a reasonable belief that Samaan was going to hurt or kill himself or the driver of a car the officer had pulled over. The officer had pulled a car over on McDowell Road. As he walked to the car, Samaan, in an oncoming vehicle, stopped in the middle of the street, got out carrying a hatchet and approached the officer. Berlin said it was sad that previous hospitalizations and treatments had not helped Samaan, but he did not specify for what Samaan was treated. Will County court records indicated that Samaan was charged in January with aggravated battery to a peace officer, aggravated battery to a victim 60 or older, and two misdemeanor counts of domestic battery. He was ordered to stay away from his home and his parents. He applied to participate in Will's mental health court, but was denied.
• A Lombard police officer was seriously wounded in December, and a suspect was shot to death, after an armed robbery of a tobacco shop on Roosevelt Road. Detective Ryan Postal suffered a broken thigh bone after being shot. He managed to shoot suspect Pierre Thompson, who died shortly thereafter. Another suspect, Anthony C. Brown Jr., has been charged with attempted murder, even though he didn't shoot Postal, because he is accused of participating in the store robbery.
• In March, an over-the-road truck driver killed his boss in Burr Ridge after he had a disagreement about pay and a work assignment and was about to be fired. Jeremy Jerome Spicer, 31, of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, shot Nicola Misovic, 30, in the chest and a leg at Winners Freight on Frontage Road. He ran off, entered another business, and shot himself to death.
Kane and McHenry counties
• Geneva resident Shadwick King was convicted, again, of murdering his wife, Kathleen, in 2014. His previous conviction had been overturned by the state Supreme Court. King was accused of strangling his wife to death. Her body was found early one Sunday morning with her head hanging over a Union Pacific rail. King's attorney, Kathleen Zellner, argued that it was more likely a drunken Kathleen King had suffered a cardiac arrest while out jogging along the railroad tracks.
• In July, an entire family from Rolling Meadows, plus a friend of theirs, were killed by a drunk woman driving the wrong way on I-90 near Marengo. The victims were Thomas and Lauren Dobosz; their
• In June, a Yorkville man was charged with killing an Aurora woman in 2003. Prince L. Cunningham, 49, is accused of shooting Tyesha Bell, 22. Her remains were found in 2020 in a shallow grave in Kane County. Cunningham was the father of one of Bell's children.
• The year started with news of the grisly murder of a 6-year-old North Chicago boy whose naked body was discovered wrapped in a plastic trash bag Jan. 8 near an abandoned house in Gary, Indiana, three days after family members reported him missing. A coroner's report said the boy, Damari Perry, had an extremely cold core temperature and partially frozen internal organs, as well as signs that his skin had been burned. In the days that followed, the boy's mother Jannie Perry and older brother Jeremiah Perry were charged with murder, aggravated battery of a child, dismembering a human body, conspiracy, aggravated domestic battery, concealment of a homicidal death, endangering the life or health of a child, abuse of a corpse and obstructing justice. Another older brother, whose name was not released by authorities because he is a juvenile, is being charged in Lake County juvenile court.
• A 35-year-old Round Lake Beach man was accused of drowning his three children in his home on June 13. Jason E. Karels faces life in prison if convicted of the nine counts of first-degree murder for killing Bryant Karels, 5, Cassidy Karels, 3, and Gideon Karels, 2. Police said Karels drowned the children one by one in a bathtub before attempting to kill himself then fleeing the home, leading police on a high-speed chase that ended in a crash off an Interstate 80 bridge in Joliet. Officials said Karels was recorded by police body cameras saying he'd killed his children and that he left his estranged wife Debra Karels a note reading, "If I can't have them neither can you." Debra Karels told reporters she found her children dead on a bed in the home. An online campaign raised more than $105,000 to support her after the tragedy.
• A different Round Lake Beach man, Tracy D. Thomas, 34, was charged with murdering a child in his care in 2022. Officials said the 6-year-old boy, Jayceon Wright, was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville on Feb. 21 after his mother found him on the floor at home suffering from significant injuries. Police said Jayceon was in the home with Thomas shortly before the injuries occurred and that the boy's injuries were the result of "an intentional act" by Thomas. He died Feb. 25 at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge from his injuries, which included severe head trauma, officials said.