Video played a role in several major suburban crime stories

  • Arlington Heights police gather up evidence, bloody clothes and a chain saw after a domestic case turned violent in an Arlington Heights office park in June.

      Arlington Heights police gather up evidence, bloody clothes and a chain saw after a domestic case turned violent in an Arlington Heights office park in June. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted12/28/2017 8:00 AM

A shocking assault on a Crystal Lake teen streamed live on social media marked the beginning of a year in which video figured prominently in several high-profile, suburban criminal cases.

A home surveillance camera captured a man kicking in the front door of a Mount Prospect home which authorities say he intended to burglarize. Store surveillance showed an Elgin man purchasing luggage in which he placed his mother's dismembered remains, authorities say. And prosecutors say forensic analysis of deleted files from a digital camera memory card showed a Prospect Heights couple sexually assaulting several teenage boys.

 

Here's a look at some of the major crimes in 2017 with Northwest suburban ties:

Brittany Covington, 19 (clockwise from upper left) Tesfaye Cooper, 19; Jordan Hill, 19 and Tanishia Covington, 25, were charged with aggravated kidnapping, hate crime, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon following an attack on a Crystal Lake teen in January.
Brittany Covington, 19 (clockwise from upper left) Tesfaye Cooper, 19; Jordan Hill, 19 and Tanishia Covington, 25, were charged with aggravated kidnapping, hate crime, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon following an attack on a Crystal Lake teen in January. -

Among 2017's most notorious cases was that of four young adults from Chicago charged in January with battery, kidnapping, unlawful restraint and hate crime in an attack -- streamed live on Facebook -- against an 18-year-old male who prosecutors said suffers from schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder.

The accused include 19-year-old Jordan Hill, who attended Aurora's Core Academy and Hoffman Estates' Conant High School and was described as a friend of the victim; 19-year-old Tesfaye Cooper, a former Hoffman Estates High School student; Tanishia Covington, 25; and her sister, Brittany Covington, 19.

Prosecutors say the attack unfolded between Dec. 31, 2016, and Jan. 2, at the Covingtons' Chicago apartment. There authorities say the accused slapped, punched and harassed the teen, cut his scalp, made him drink toilet water, threatened to kill him, and forced him to make racial and derogatory statements about then President-elect Donald Trump. All four defendants are black; the Crystal Lake teen is white.

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Brittany Covington pleaded guilty last month to a hate crime, intimidation and aggravated battery with intent to disseminate in exchange for four years probation, during which she cannot use social media and must perform 200 hours of community service. Charges are pending against the other defendants.

Anthony Wheeler, left, and Christopher Wheeler, right are accused of sexually assaulting teenage boys in their Prospect Heights home.
Anthony Wheeler, left, and Christopher Wheeler, right are accused of sexually assaulting teenage boys in their Prospect Heights home. -

"Heinous" was the word police used to described the charges against a Prospect Heights couple accused of sexually abusing teenage boys in their home. Police say Christopher Wheeler, 31, and his husband Anthony Wheeler, 25, fled to California earlier this year after two 14-year-old boys and a 15-year-old boy made allegations against them.

The Wheelers told the boys what happens in the house stays in the house, prosecutors said during the couple's March bond hearing. Six months later, they were back in bond court to face dozens of new charges, including aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, child pornography and aggravated domestic battery involving four additional accusers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

They are being held without bail in the Cook County jail.

• Prosecutors say video captured an Arlington Heights man kicking open the front door of a Mount Prospect home on July 23. A 16-year-old girl was home alone when she heard a stranger -- who police later identified as 55-year-old Scott Weissert -- knock on the door. Authorities say she called her mother, who used a cellphone app to turn on the camera pointed at the door. Seeing the intruder enter, the mom called 911,

Weissert, who has 18 felony convictions, mostly for burglary, was charged with residential burglary. He remains in the Cook County jail on $200,000 bail.

Deaths in the family

Joy Ramos of Elk Grove Village is charged with murder in connection with the death of her 3-year-old son
Joy Ramos of Elk Grove Village is charged with murder in connection with the death of her 3-year-old son -

An Elk Grove Village mother and an Elgin son were charged with killing family members in 2017.

Joy Ramos' 3-year-old son Steven Figueroa died Sept. 13, at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village. An autopsy revealed lacerations to his liver and bruises on his head, back and abdomen, authorities said. They say Ramos, 22, claims she brought her son to the hospital after she found him unresponsive in the company of her boyfriend.

Ramos faces first-degree murder charges. Her boyfriend has not been charged.

A police report shows Steven's noncustodial father abducted the boy on Valentine's Day, 2017. He was returned safely within hours, police said. DCFS did not investigate because the child was not harmed, a spokeswoman said.

Brian Peck is accused of killing his mother then dismembering her body and dumping it in a Chicago pond after an argument over loud music in the Elgin home they shared.
Brian Peck is accused of killing his mother then dismembering her body and dumping it in a Chicago pond after an argument over loud music in the Elgin home they shared. -

Authorities say an argument over loud music led to the death of 76-year-old Gail Peck, whose son Brian Peck, 55, has been charged with murdering her in the Elgin home they shared.

Brian Peck reported his mother missing Oct. 25, telling police she left the house to walk a dog, which returned without her. Three days later, a fisherman found a duffel bag containing body parts in a Lincoln Park lagoon in Chicago.

The Chicago Police Department's marine unit later found a suitcase containing a female torso. All the body parts were later identified as belonging to Gail Peck.

Police traced both bags to Brian Peck. They say he killed his mother Oct. 25, then over the next few days withdrew $500 from her checking account and bought carpet cleaner, paver bricks, tarps and nylon cord.

Prosecutors also claim Peck bought a five-piece luggage set and a steam vacuum cleaner. Several transactions and purchases were caught on store or bank surveillance, prosecutors said.

Denied bail, Peck remains in custody at the Cook County jail.

Flight and return

• A neighbor and an acquaintance were charged with the slayings of Tiffany Thrasher, 33, and Quentin Tillison, 37, who were murdered in separate attacks in Schaumburg.

Thrasher experienced "a single woman's worst nightmare" April 15 when prosecutors say Bulmaro Mejia-Maya -- a construction worker who lived with five other men in an apartment 50 feet from Thrasher's -- entered her home through a window, sexually assaulted and strangled her.

Mejia-Maya was arrested several days later in Jacksonville, Florida, and charged with murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault and home invasion. He was ordered held without bail.

• Tillison died Aug. 15, one day after he suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the abdomen in a store parking lot at the corner of Wise and Roselle roads in Schaumburg. Before he died, however, he named his attacker to police and witnesses, according to prosecutors.

Oliver L. Rhone, 37, of Glendale Heights, was charged with first-degree murder and was ordered held without bail in the Cook County jail.

Prosecutors say Rhone shot Tillison during an Aug. 14 argument outside the store.

Rhone's attorney says his client fired in self-defense, claiming Tillison had "menaced" the defendant over several years, a claim prosecutors called "unsupported."

Gruesome attack

In one of the year's grisliest stories, an Arlington Heights man was charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in June after authorities say he nearly severed a man's forearm with a chain saw.

Jose A. Jaimes- Jiminez of Arlington Heights was charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in June after authorities say he nearly severed a man's forearm with a chain saw.
Jose A. Jaimes- Jiminez of Arlington Heights was charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon in June after authorities say he nearly severed a man's forearm with a chain saw.

Cook County Judge Joseph Cataldo described it as a "scene out of a horror movie."

Jose Jaimes-Jimenez, 28, became enraged when he saw the man leave work at an Arlington Heights office park around 1 p.m. June 19, with Jaimes-Jimenez's estranged wife, prosecutors said.

They say Jaimes-Jimenez used his car to block them in the parking lot then, while carrying the chain saw, got out his vehicle and ran after the victim. After the 39-year-old victim fell to the ground, prosecutors said, he raised his arms to protect himself as Jaimes-Jimenez lowered the chain saw.

Arlington Heights officials later honored four good Samaritans -- Deborah Bauer, Scott Frost, Mark Hewitt and Valerie Valadez -- for their efforts to save the man's life.

Dispositions

• A murder conviction and the 30-year prison sentence that accompanied it closed a tragic chapter for the family of Francisca Quintero-Montoya, whose estranged husband, Javier Bahena-Arellano, stabbed her to death March 22, 2015, in a restroom at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village.

The killing occurred as Quintero-Montoya and her extended family were at the hospital grieving the loss of her brother, who died that day after suffering a heart attack.

Prosecutors said Bahena- Arellano, 46, of McHenry, believed his wife was cheating on him.

In front of two of the couple's children, Cook County Judge Joel Greenblatt condemned Bahena-Arellano's "cowardly, heartless, callous action" saying his behavior "ruined several families."

• A registered sex offender from Streamwood convicted of sexually assaulting and impregnating a 14-year-old girl was sentenced in August to three consecutive, 30-year prison terms by Cook County Judge Richard Schwind. He called defendant Juan J. Torres "the personification of evil."

The sentence ensures the 47-year-old Torres, described as a longtime gang member, will spend the rest of his life behind bars for repeatedly assaulting the teenager, whose child was stillborn.

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