Police question Kelly's girlfriend

September 14, 2009 8:46:14 PM PDT
Police investigating the death of Chris Kelly questioned his girlfriend on Monday.Kelly died Saturday morning. He was an advisor and chief fundraiser for ousted governor Rod Blagojevich.

Country Club Hills police say they've been waiting for days to question the girlfriend, Clarisa Flores-Buhelos.

Mayor Dwight Welch blames the delay on her lawyer.

"Because witnesses have lawyered up. OK, well, it just makes it longer and harder to do what we have to do," said Welch.

The meeting finally did happen on Monday afternoon at defense attorney Terry Gillespie's downtown office. Police left sounding satisfied.

"I will say the witness is cooperating but the investigation continue is all I have to say at this time," said Chief Regina Evans, Country Club Hills Police Department.

Gillespie tells ABC7 News that police were to blame for the delay in the questioning of Clarissa Flores-Buhelos, who evaded reporters afterwards by leaving through a tobacco shop.

"She held nothing back. There wasn't one question she didn't answer. She was completely honest with them. In my opinion, and I think theirs, too, very, very helpful," said Gillespie.

Police say Flores-Buhelos found Christopher Kelly slumped over in his SUV Friday night in the lumber yard in the southern suburb. Then she brought him to Oak Forest Hospital. Kelly was transferred to Stroger Hospital Saturday morning where he died from an apparent drug overdose.

Mayor Welch says there are two other men who were with Kelly Friday night or driving his Cadillac Escalade after he was in the hospital and police now have communicated with both of them. He also says they still haven't found cell phones belonging to Kelly or Flores-Buhelos.

"Until we have that I can't tell you when it was said, where it was said, what time it was. We have holes in our timeline. We're correcting them as we speak," said Welch.

Investigators say Kelly told police officers at Oak Forest Hospital that he did not try to kill himself, that he had taken Tylenol for pain because he had surgery on his private parts, as he put it. But on Monday the medical examiner showed autopsy results showed that Kelly never had any such surgery. That autopsy conducted over the weekend was inconclusive.

Toxicology tests are still pending.

Kelly trusted Blagojevich supporter

Kelly was one of Blagojevich's closest and most trusted supporters. He ran Blagojevich's fundraising operation during his two campaigns for governor.

He was also a co-defendant in Blagojevich's corruption trial. Some legal experts say the feds' case could be affected by Kelly's death, especially if he was preparing to testify against his friend.

"The government got an indictment before Chris Kelly. They got it independent of him. The bottom line is, although it might be a blow, it might not be a fatal blow to the government's prosecution," said legal expert Richard Kling.

Investigators say they plan to get warrants to search a storage area and get Kelly's medical records. Police also want to talk to Kelly's family about his medical history.

Although an autopsy on Kelly has been performed, authorities say a final determination of his death will wait for the results of toxicology tests.

Outside the Blagojevich case, Kelly was facing at least eight years in prison after pleading guilty to two separate fraud cases. Last week, Kelly gave no indication he was going plea again.

Blagojevich reacts Sunday

Former governor Blagojevich, who was in New York to promote his new book, said Sunday he was mourning because Kelly was a good man and good friend.

Blagojevich also said pressure by prosecutors to try to get Kelly to testify falsely about him might have led Kelly to commit suicide.

"This is a personal loss. A friend took his life because he refused to lie about me, notwithstanding the pressure he was getting from prosecutors who were willing to reduce his sentence and make life easier for him. It's also a loss because he was going to be a witness who was going to tell the truth, and he was going to be a witness who was going to help me vindicate myself from these false accusations," Blagojevich said. "I'm shocked and I'm stunned. I still can't believe that this is happening in America."

The former governor said Kelly made some mistakes and admitted them, but he added that his friend had big virtues, and a big heart.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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