Man charged in deadly crime spree

December 14, 2009 6:54:21 PM PST
A suspect has been charged with murder after a violent crime spree that left two women dead and critically wounded a man. Police think James Amison, 37, may be responsible for all the crimes. Amison now faces several charges including attempted murder. He's hospitalized and under police guard after being shot at a nightclub that police say he tried to rob.

The crime scenes are in Maywood, on Chicago's South Side, and in south suburban Steger.

Investigators say that Amison's crime spree began in Steger with the strangulation murder of his wife. It's a slaying that witnesses as well as the suspect himself allegedly told police that he committed because he was angry about an affair that he believed his wife was having with his father.

"We were a family on Thanksgiving. My brother was here, my father was here. All our family were here. To go from Thanksgiving to December 12, I can't explain it or understand what happened," said Jamie Johnson, suspect's sister.

James Amison's sister says she and her family can't understand what caused him to allegedly strangle his wife on their living room sofa before covering her body with a sheet. But he apparently never attempted to hurt her two girls -- ages 15 and 5 -- who were in the couple's bedroom during the attack.

Investigators say after leaving Steger, Amison borrowed a car from a female friend and headed to the Maywood home of his father, 59-year-old James Johnson, argued with him and then shot him in the neck leaving him paralyzed.

"According to witnesses as well as the defendant's post-arrest statement, the defendant believed that his father had been having an affair with his wife," said Joe Lattanzio, assistant state's attorney.

The suspect then allegedly went to the South Side home of his ex-girlfriend, Stephanie Reed, 40. An upstairs neighbor says he heard the man kick in her front door before shooting her in the head. Her family says had recently rebuffed his attempts to rekindle their relationship.

Detectives say Amison ended up at a strip club on the Far South Side, where he was shot in the leg after allegedly trying to rob several patrons there.

Police investigators say although Amison's alleged rampage was targeted, they can't be sure how many people he would have hurt if he had not been stopped.

"He was going to do some damage it sounds like," said Chief Richard Stultz, Steger Police Department.

The children of Taskhika Smith, Amison's wife, remain in the protective custody of the Department of Children and Family Services. Amison's father remains hospitalized in critical condition at a suburban hospital.

Amison has been charged with one count of first-degree murder, attempted murder as well as armed robbery. A judge denied him bond on Monday.


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