Murderer of Elgin toddler moves to Crystal Lake area

  • Cayce Williams, left, with niece, Amber Robarge, speaks Friday in Crystal Lake on his parole. He was released after serving 24 years in the 1997 murder of an Elgin toddler.

    Cayce Williams, left, with niece, Amber Robarge, speaks Friday in Crystal Lake on his parole. He was released after serving 24 years in the 1997 murder of an Elgin toddler. Courtesy of Matthew Apgar/Shaw Media

  • Quortney Kley on her first birthday.

    Quortney Kley on her first birthday. Family photo courtesy of Shaw Media

Updated 2/27/2021 5:59 PM

The man who on Thursday moved to unincorporated Crystal Lake after completing his prison term for the 1997 murder of an Elgin toddler said he was wrongfully accused and doesn't want to disrupt the local community.

Cayce Williams, 47, stood Friday outside his brother's home in the Crystal Lake area and recounted what he referred to as the "accident" that led to the death of 20-month-old Quortney Kley -- claims the current Kane County state's attorney said were "not even remotely" true.


Williams was released Thursday from the Dixon Correctional Center after serving 50% of his 48-year prison sentence for first-degree murder and predatory criminal sexual assault. During the remaining three years of mandatory supervised release he must attend counseling and will be fitted for a device to monitor his whereabouts, he said.

"First and foremost, I want to apologize to the community here that I bring any discomfort being at this residence," Williams said. "I'm not trying to be a discomfort to this neighborhood, but I also want to get out there that I am innocent of these charges."

His release Thursday landed on the 24-year anniversary of the 20-month-old's death.

Williams, who never appealed his conviction, said that his confession to police the next day was made under "great duress."

"There were big mistakes made in the charging processes," Williams said. "They charged me before they had the proper information from the proper sources of that information."

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Kane County State's Attorney Jamie Mosser called those claims "not even remotely" true.

Mosser, who was elected state's attorney in November, worked in the Kane County state's attorney's office while Williams' case was ongoing. Although she wasn't directly involved, Mosser said she remembers it well and recently reviewed the case in its entirety.

"The evidence showed that (Quortney) had major bruising to her abdomen, that there was a significant amount of bruising and injuries on her head -- either of which could have caused her death -- and that there also was evidence of sexual assault," Mosser said.

Williams said Friday he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol while watching Quortney on Feb. 25, 1997. Williams said he thought she stopped breathing and in a panic, he tried CPR. "I'm not really a small guy, so the pressure I was applying --- obviously it was too much," Williams said.

Mosser said Williams' account doesn't align with forensic evidence.

"I think he's had 24 years to make it up," Mosser said. "He needs to take responsibility for what he did. He took the life of a beautiful baby, and he did so in a traumatic and horrible way. The least he can do is let this family go on in peace and admit to what he did."


Williams' arrival in McHenry County on Thursday had residents on edge. Neighbors walking their dogs and chatting in driveways said they were "very uneasy" with Williams moving to the area.

"What can we do?" said Beth Zender, one neighbor. "He has to live somewhere. It just kind of stinks that it's across the street and a block away from the school."

Williams' next-door neighbor bent over her steering wheel and cried as she pulled into her driveway with two young children in the back seat of her car Friday.

"How do I explain this to my kids?" the neighbor asked. "They're not going to sleep. I'm not going to sleep."

Minutes later, the woman and one of Williams' adult relatives were engaged in a verbal spat, arguing with one another from their respective lawns.

"I'm not saying that you shouldn't be afraid, but he was falsely accused," said Amber Robarge, Williams' niece.

Still, the neighbor, who asked to remain unnamed, said she has no choice but to move.

A petition seeking to remove Williams from the city had garnered 922 signatures as of Friday evening.

This is a shortened version of this story. The complete story is at

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