Top crime stories of 2018

  • Sandra Wesselman, whose daughter Kristy was murdered by Michael Jones in 1985, speaks during a news conference following a sentencing hearing for Jones.

      Sandra Wesselman, whose daughter Kristy was murdered by Michael Jones in 1985, speaks during a news conference following a sentencing hearing for Jones. Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
Posted1/4/2019 6:00 AM

A look back at some of the top crime and justice stories of 2018 in DuPage County ...

January

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80 years in Wesselman murder:

After 30 years on the run in the wake of raping and murdering 15-year-old Kristy Wesselman, Michael Jones will take his last breaths in an Illinois prison. Jones, 64, of Champaign surprises prosecutors by pleading guilty to Kristy's murder near Glen Ellyn and is sentenced to 80 years in prison. Jones does not speak at his sentencing, but Kristy's mom, Sandra Wesselman, says, "Our pain from the loss of Kristy will never be completely healed."

West Chicago man sentenced:

A 22-year-old West Chicago man, James Hernandez, is sentenced to 35 years in prison for the November 2015 murder of his cousin, Enrique Hernandez. Authorities say James Hernandez shot his cousin in the head and then pushed him out of the vehicle in which they were riding.

Remembering murder victim:

Friends and family gather in Naperville to remember Matthew Lange, a Lewis University professor from Oswego, who was shot and killed in January 2017 while sitting in his car waiting for his then-4-year-old son to emerge from a Naperville school where he was taking Polish classes. Lange's killer is still at large and police said they have not identified any suspects.

3 years for attacks:

A Winfield man, Matthew Grover, is sentenced to three years in prison for attacking two women on separate occasions along the Illinois Prairie Path. Grover pleads guilty to two counts of aggravated battery.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Ex-teacher sentenced:

A former Elk Grove Village elementary school music teacher, Andrew Clarke, is sentenced to 10 years in prison on child porn charges. The Glendale Heights man pleads guilty to two counts of possession of child pornography.

Man intended to kill conductor:

An 80-year-old Wisconsin man, Edward Klein, faces confinement in a mental health facility after a DuPage judge rules he knew what he was doing and intended to kill an Amtrak conductor in May 2017 in Naperville. Doctors diagnose Klein with an impaired cognition disorder and dementia and say he suffers from a major neurocognitive disorder.

February

Murder charges in shooting:

A 38-year-old Oswego man, Serafin Castellanos, is charged with murder in connection with a March 2017 shooting in Aurora that left two men dead and a third seriously injured. Police say the shooting occurred at a bar and Castellanos is accused of being the trigger man who killed Jermaine P. Taylor, 35, and Anselmo V. Fernandez, 37.

Charges dropped against cop:

In a stunning reversal, DuPage County prosecutors cite "insufficient admissible evidence to proceed" and drop all charges against former Schaumburg police officer John Cichy, who was accused of running a drug-dealing operation with two fellow officers. The decision, based on concerns with the testimony of a police informant, raises questions about what will happen to the other two officers -- Matthew Hudak and Terrance O'Brien -- who already pleaded guilty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

2 charged in hammer attack:

A Glen Ellyn-area resident and the hitman he hired to kill his parents are held without bail after their victims are seriously injured in an attack with a hammer inside their home. Joshua Miceli, 23, is charged with two counts of solicitation of murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. Michael Targo, 18, of Glendale Heights is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder. Miceli tells police he was angry with his parents because they didn't support his chosen career path as a blacksmith.

Thief steals French bulldog:

A man steals a French bulldog puppy valued at $6,000 from the Furry Babies pet store in Aurora's Fox Valley Shopping Center and escapes even as employees give chase. The puppy is never recovered.

Student charged in threat:

A 16-year-old Lake Park sophomore faces two felony charges after authorities say he made threats against his high school. Authorities say the boy grew annoyed with social media chatter associated with an earlier phony threat that caused both Lake Park campuses to cancel classes.

March

Man charged in attack:

A 43-year-old Chicago man, Byron Auterberry, faces charges related to a traffic stop in Elmhurst that resulted in a police officer firing his weapon. Auterberry is charged with aggravated assault of a police officer, aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, fleeing and eluding a police officer and driving with a suspended license. Authorities say Auterberry sped toward a police officer who was ordering him to get out of his vehicle.

DuPage judge acquitted:

DuPage County Judge Patrick O'Shea was negligent when he accidentally fired a revolver through the wall of his apartment, a Kane County judge rules, but those actions did not meet reckless conduct requirements. As a result, O'Shea is found not guilty. He returns to his post in DuPage County, but only in an administrative function.

Accused of biting cop in face:

A Woodridge man is held on $350,000 bail after authorities say he attacked a police officer, bit him in the face and tried to take his gun. Antonio Rome, 50, is charged with aggravated battery to a police officer, resisting or obstructing a police officer, attempting to disarm a police officer and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

Bank robber escapes on bike:

A bank robber holds up a TCF Bank in Glendale Heights and then escapes using an unconventional getaway vehicle -- a bicycle. Police say he got away with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Woman accused in strangling:

Less than 24 hours after being charged with stealing several pieces of her mother's jewelry, Stephanie DeFalco couldn't believe her mom was kicking her out of the house. So, prosecutors say, she strangled her. The 28-year-old Lombard woman is held on $3 million bond.

Ex-player pleads to hazing:

A former Wheaton College football player, Noah Spielman, pleads guilty to misdemeanor battery in the hazing of a former teammate at Wheaton College. Spielman is one of five players charged in the case in which the teammate was taken from his dorm room, punched and kicked and left partially clothed on an elementary school baseball field.

April

Charges in carjacking:

A 26-year-old Chicago man, Darnell Anderson, is charged with aggravated vehicular hijacking with a gun after police say he and another man stole a 68-year-old woman's car and purse at gunpoint before her morning shift at Oakbrook Center.

Two hailed as heroes:

Jose Martinez of Aurora describes how he pulled an unconscious Warrenville man from his burning car across the street from his house on E. New York Street.
  Jose Martinez of Aurora describes how he pulled an unconscious Warrenville man from his burning car across the street from his house on E. New York Street. - Daniel White | Staff Photographer

Two Aurora men are hailed as heroes after police say they rescued a Warrenville resident from his car after a fiery crash. Jose Martinez pulled the injured man from his burning vehicle and Devin Johnson pulled the victim even farther from the crash scene.

Teen gets 5 years in prison:

A Villa Park teen, Bruce Berrier, is sentenced to five years in prison for firing multiple shots that wounded two men in November 2015 in Addison. A DuPage judge says Berrier viewed himself as the "king enforcer of his block."

Former teacher found dead:

A retired West Aurora High School teacher, Robert James, who went on the lam while awaiting trial on felony child pornography and solicitation charges, is found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. James was a no-show two months earlier when prosecutors wanted to introduce additional evidence indicating he had a sexual relationship with a student while still teaching at West Aurora in the mid-1990s.

Murder plot paid with bitcoin:

Tina Jones walks out of the DuPage County courthouse in Wheaton after pleading not guilty to solicitation of murder and attempted murder.
  Tina Jones walks out of the DuPage County courthouse in Wheaton after pleading not guilty to solicitation of murder and attempted murder. - Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

A Des Plaines woman is charged with paying a dark web company $10,000 in bitcoin to kill the wife of her lover. Tina Jones, a registered nurse at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, is charged with solicitation of murder for the plot to kill the Woodridge woman.

May

Explosion injures students:

More than a dozen Glenbard East High School students are injured -- some seriously -- when a flammable liquid is poured on a bonfire and triggers an explosion in Glendale Heights.

Cop claims discrimination:

A veteran Wheaton police officer, Jill Uhlir, files a federal discrimination lawsuit claiming she was passed over for promotions and demoted because of her age and gender. Wheaton officials deny the claim.

Elmhurst cop cleared:

An Elmhurst police officer is cleared in the Feb. 27 shooting in which he wounded a 43-year-old Chicago man who drove his car at the officer while trying to avoid arrest. State's Attorney Robert Berlin says officer Alexander Kefaloukos was "completely justified" in discharging his weapon.

Three found dead in Winfield:

Three people are found dead inside a Winfield home in what authorities call a murder-suicide. Dead are Nancy Clinkenbeard, 77, Clyde Clinkenbeard, 76, and their son, Karl Clinkenbeard, 50. Authorities say Karl killed his parents and then himself in a dispute when they announced they wanted him to leave their home.

Man charged in attack:

A 20-year-old West Chicago man, Javier Garcia, is charged with two counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon after police say he attacked a man with a hammer in Glendale Heights, leaving the victim in a coma.

Porn left along trail:

A self-proclaimed amateur scientist, 68-year-old William Winnie of Naperville, is banned from Pratt's Wayne Woods for a year after pleading guilty to leaving pornography and women's underwear along the Illinois Prairie Path as an "experiment."

June

Dist. 99 named in lawsuits:

Two lawsuits are filed in DuPage accusing a former longtime band director at Downers Grove North High School of sexual abuse involving two students. The lawsuits claim William Miller participated in "sexually abusive and sexually inappropriate" interactions with the girls from 2002 to 2006.

Banned from Lombard shop:

Sandra Pihos, a six-term state legislator from Glen Ellyn, is banned from the Lombard Von Maur store as part of an agreement in which she pleads guilty to a misdemeanor count of retail theft.

7 wounded in Aurora shooting:

Seven people are wounded when gunmen open fire at a child's birthday party in Aurora. Police say witnesses are not cooperative.

22 years for 2014 slaying:

After refusing to cooperate with prosecutors at his co-defendant's 2016 murder trial, Kenneth Bardlett, 24, of Bellwood, is sentenced to 22 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of first-degree murder for his role in the 2014 shooting death of a Bensenville shop owner.

July

Prison term for fatal crash:

A Chicago man, Robert Gorss, is sentenced to 11 years in prison for causing a crash that killed a 48-year-old mother of two from Downers Grove. Gorss pleads guilty to aggravated driving under the influence for the 2016 crash in Lombard that claimed the life of Dawn Nickeas.

Aurora siblings killed in crash:

Two Aurora siblings are killed when the motorcycle they're riding collides with a car in Naperville. Dead are David Casas Garcia, 26, and Najeli Casas Garcia, 16. Authorities say a car driven by a 70-year-old Naperville man turned in front of the motorcycle.

Roselle-area shooting death:

A memorial along Lake Street near Roselle for a man who was fatally shot on June 3.
  A memorial along Lake Street near Roselle for a man who was fatally shot on June 3. - Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

An Oak Park man, Owen Reneau. is charged with the June slaying of a 27-year-old Glendale Heights man near Roselle. Reneau is captured in Baltimore and charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Sanchez Townes-Elliot in a recording studio along Lake Street.

Reckless conduct charge:

A longtime Bartlett High School teacher, Garry Brodersen, is charged with reckless conduct after authorities say he burned a student by pouring liquid nitrogen on the teen's chest and groin.

Woman killed in Mexico City:

A former Hawthorn Woods woman, Tatiana Mirutenko Hoover, is shot and killed outside a Mexico City restaurant while celebrating her first wedding anniversary. Authorities say the gunman in the drive-by shooting was aiming at a bouncer. She is buried in Bloomingdale.

Naperville man shot to death:

Naperville police officially conclude their missing person investigation in July after a 20-year-old Naperville man, Michael Armendariz, was found May 31 in a Chicago Dumpster after being shot multiple times in the head. He had gone missing in January and was remembered as an aspiring artist and free spirit.

September

Man charged in shooting:

A 59-year-old Bartlett man, Donald Pelka, is charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a security guard at Bella One Spa, an adult business along Lake Street near Roselle. Killed is Kyle Gojdas, 29, of Glendale Heights. Authorities say Pelka was a customer who initiated an early morning confrontation with employees and then argued with Gojdas in the parking lot, where he shot the security guard twice in the torso.

Jailed man released:

Randy Liebich was serving a 65-year prison term after being convicted of murdering 2-year-old Steve Quinn Jr. in 2002 in Willowbrook. But DuPage County Judge John Kinsella frees him on $300,000 bond after ruling he was denied a fair trial in 2004 as a result of "ineffective assistance of counsel." He will receive a new trial.

4 plead not guilty:

Police investigate outside a West Chicago home where a man was beaten and fatally shot in November. Three men have been charged in connection with the crime.
  Police investigate outside a West Chicago home where a man was beaten and fatally shot in November. Three men have been charged in connection with the crime. - Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

All four suspects in the August slaying of an 18-year-old West Chicago man plead not guilty to a 12-count indictment. Francisco Alvarado, Saul Ruiz, Tia Brewer and Jesus Correa each is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Luis Guerrero, who authorities say was repeatedly stabbed, beaten, set on fire and run over by a Jeep. His body was found in a fire pit by firefighters conducting training nearby.

October

Man sentenced in shooting:

A Downers Grove man is sentenced to 12 years in prison for shooting another man in 2015 in a Walmart store in Darien. Bradley Morris, 22, pleaded guilty to one county of aggravated battery-discharge of a firearm.

Suspect wants braces off:

A DuPage County judge denies a 16-year-old murder suspect's request to temporarily be released from custody so her orthodontist can remove her braces. Judge George Bakalis rules that any such treatment for Tia Brewer should be performed while she is in custody.

Westmont man charged:

A Westmont man is charged with aggravated DUI causing death after authorities say Onecimo Vazquez-Valazquez crashed his car into a tree while driving drunk, killing his passenger, Annajeanne Dewey.

Wheaton man released:

Joseph McHale, a 31-year-old Wheaton man found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 2014 battery and sexual assault of an ex-girlfriend, could be released by the end of the year from the Elgin Mental Health Center. Because many halfway houses or treatment centers don't accept sex offenders, he ultimately may be released to his parents' Wheaton home.

Driver acquitted in robbery:

The alleged getaway driver in a 2015 armed robbery in Carol Stream, Quincy Skaes of Glen Ellyn, is acquitted by a jury. His attorneys had argued he was merely an innocent pawn in the robbery.

Charged with shooting at cops:

Bail is set at $3 million for a reputed gang member with more than 40 previous arrests charged with firing at two officers responding to a domestic dispute in Bloomingdale. Raymond Vieyra faces three counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm at a police officer and unlawful use or possession of a weapon by a felon.

November

Finance official charged:

A former assistant superintendent for business in Addison Elementary District 4, Marcia Boyan, is charged with stealing $11,000 worth of My Bank ... My Rewards credit card points from the district. A Naperville resident, Boyan also had served as Naperville Unit District 203's chief finance officer.

3 charged in slaying:

Three reputed gang members are charged with first-degree murder in the beating and shooting of a 26-year-old West Chicago man. The three -- Juan Calderon of Aurora, Emilio Guillen of Rockford and Fredi Bautista of West Chicago -- tell authorities they had been drinking and were "amped up and looking for trouble" when they spotted rival gang member Alexander Nicolas outside a party. They stopped and beat him, authorities said, and then Calderon shot him in the back of the head.

Guilty in student's death:

A Downers Grove man, Francis Emanuele, pleads guilty to one count of drug-induced homicide and one count of indecent solicitation of a child for giving a fatal dose of methadone to a 15-year-old foreign exchange student from Spain. He will be sentenced in February 2019.

December

Guilty plea in robbery:

An Elgin man faces between six and 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to his role in the August 2016 kidnapping and armed robbery of a Wheaton College student in broad daylight. Jeremy Jones will be sentenced in January 2019.

Sexual abuse charges:

A 35-year-old Villa Park woman, Stefanie Litton, is charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse of boys ages 13 to 16. Prosecutors say she threw underage drinking parties to lure teenage boys for sex.

2 charged in fatal crash:

Two men are charged with reckless homicide and aggravated street racing after police say they caused a September crash that killed two others in Bartlett. Charged are Uriel Zenteno of West Chicago and Jordan Grant of Bolingbrook.

Former banker to prison:

A former Downers Grove banker, Christine Lange, is sentenced to four years in prison for stealing more than $328,000 from three elderly customers. She also is ordered to pay full restitution to her employer, who covered the victims' losses.

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