Top Lake County crime stories of 2017

Lake County is the site of several high-profile crimes every year, and 2017 was no exception.

However, several of those criminal cases were particularly chilling because they involved children.

Authorities sentenced a "monster mom," filed charges against a woman accused of carrying her deceased child onto a Metra train, and began proceedings against parents charged with withholding required medication from their son who was recovering from a heart transplant. That neglect led to his death, authorities have said.

As 2017 draws to a close, here's our list of the top crime and court stories and a look ahead to what is scheduled in 2018.

'Monster Mom'

Nicholette Lawrence of Waukegan was sentenced to 43 years in prison in January for killing her 11-year-old neglected daughter with a punch to the stomach.

Lawrence pleaded guilty in October 2016 to one count of first-degree murder, setting up the hearing with Judge James Booras.

It was there that the horrific details of the final years of Raashanai Cooley's life emerged, and pushed Booras to call Lawrence a "monster mom."

On video, Raashanai's 6-year-old brother said his sister slept in a locked closet next to her parents' bed, no one living in the house was allowed to speak Raashanai's name, Raashanai wasn't allowed to eat dinner at the table with the rest of the family. She didn't receive Christmas presents.

'Things that cannot be unseen'

Jose Reyes, 32, of Chicago, was sentenced to the maximum 120 years in prison in April for kidnapping and raping a 3-year-old Mundelein girl outside of her apartment complex.

Judge Mark Levitt sentenced Reyes to 20 more years in prison than prosecutors requested during the April hearing.

When handing down the sentence after watching a video of the sexual assault of the victim that Reyes captured on his cellphone, Levitt said there were things that "cannot be unseen and sounds that cannot be unheard."

Reyes was officially sentenced to four consecutive 30-year prison terms for aggravated kidnapping, predatory criminal sexual assault, and two counts of production of child pornography.

The Strouds

David Stroud


Jennifer Stroud

and Jennifer Stroud are charged with endangering the life of a child and involuntary manslaughter for withholding lifesaving medication from their 11-year-old son, Jason, after the child received a heart transplant in 2012, authorities have said.

David Stroud, 41, and Jennifer Stroud, 36, of Park City, have pleaded not guilty to the felony charges in front of Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes. If found guilty at trial, each faces up to 14 years in prison.

Jason Stroud, was a sixth-grader at Woodland Middle School in Gurnee when he died in September 2016. Authorities say Jason was 7-years-old when he received a heart transplant in Milwaukee. The family moved to Lake County in 2015 and was expected to make regular visits to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago to watch over the transplant.

But after the Strouds missed several appointments between December 2015 and August 2016, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services stepped in and took Jason to the hospital. It was learned his body had started rejecting the donor heart because daily medication not been given to him, authorities said. The rejection led to Jason's eventual death.

Jennifer Stroud is free after posting 10 percent of her $75,000 bail. David Stroud remains in the Lake County jail on the same bail amount. The parents have since filed for divorce.

Mom takes son on train

Jamie Jones

Jamie Jones, 29, of Round Lake Beach, has pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of first-degree murder in connection with the beating death of her 6-year-old son, Carl Rice, then taking his body onto a Metra train. She faces life in prison.

Authorities say the boy died in his sleep overnight between June 30 and July 1, after his mother severely beat him at their house in the 1800 block of Cedar Lake Road. Surveillance video shows Jones took the boy in a cab to the Round Lake Beach Metra station, carried him onto a train bound for Chicago, then carried him through Union Station before getting into a car outside.

Jones alerted family members that something was wrong with the boy when he did not wake up later that day.

Jones is held in the Lake County jail on $3 million bail. She is due back in court Jan. 3 for a case management hearing.

Perjury in politics

Dr. Thomas Rudd


Ellen Mauer


Denise Zwit

County Coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd, Libertyville High School District 128 board member Ellen Mauer, and Libertyville High School district secretary Denise Zwit, were charged in 2017 with counts of perjury for lying on nomination petitions filed when obtaining signatures seeking public office.

Rudd, 70, was charged with five counts of perjury; Mauer, 52, is charged with four counts of perjury; and Zwit, 65, faces three counts.

Each signed legal documentation claiming they witnessed petitions being signed to put them on the election ballot - Rudd and Mauer for their own nomination petitions, while Zwit obtained signatures for board President Patrick Groody.

Looking ahead in 2018

Five notorious murder and a high-profile embezzlement case are expected to go to trial in 2018. They include:

Larry Lotz, 67, is accused of murdering his wife at their house in Barrington.

David Brocksom, 44, is accused of murdering his ex-wife at her house in Gurnee.

Jorge Avila-Torrez, 29, is accused of murdering Krystal Tobias, 9, and Laura Hobbs, 8, in Zion.

Armondo Trejo, 49, is accused of killing his wife and stepson at the house they shared in Beach Park.

Kenneth Seplak, 38, is accused of a killing Libertyville resident David Gorski in 2016.

And, the nation will be on watching when the embezzlement trial of Melodie Gliniewicz, 53, kicks off near the end of the year.

Waukegan ‘monster mom’ sentenced to 43 years in prison for killing daughter

Prosecutors: Boy who received new heart died after parents failed to give him medicine

Ex-Lake County coroner turns himself in on perjury charges

120 years in prison for abduction, rape of 3-year-old Mundelein girl

Libertyville District 128 employee seeks plea deal in perjury case

Prosecutor: Mom killed son, took body aboard Metra train

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