Police: Murder suspect had girl's phone

November 5, 2011 4:43:02 AM PDT
Authorities divulged chilling and horrific details in the murder of 14-year-old Kelli O'Laughlin at a press conference Friday morning.

Police announced charges against 38-year-old John Wilson Jr., who was out on parole, with the girl's murder. Wilson has been charged with first-degree murder and residential burglary.

Investigators believe Wilson acted alone when he allegedly broke into O'Laughlin house last Thursday in Indian Head Park.

Bond was denied for Wilson. In court, prosecutors said that he not only murdered Kelli in cold blood, but he also had the gall to text message her mother using her cell phone.

"Even the most experienced investigators and prosecutors have been brought to tears by the very facts of this case and the chilling nature of this case," said Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.

The prosecution's case begins with three eyewitnesses who spotted Wilson in the Indian Head Park neighborhood between 2:45 and 3:30 p.m. last Thursday. Those witnesses later identified him in a line-up.

Wilson, of Chicago, stood stone-faced in court as prosecutors detailed his alleged crimes. He allegedly entered the O'Laughlin home after breaking a window with a rock wrapped in a knit cap.

The cap, prosecutors say, was recovered inside, and provides a DNA match to Wilson.

"The news of this terrible crime has changed the lives of all the residents of Indian Head Park and throughout the surrounding area," said Indian Head Park Police Department Chief Frank Alonzo.

At 3:40 Thursday afternoon, Kelli O'Laughlin got off the bus, entered her home, and was attacked. Officials say 14-year-old Kelli walked in on the burglary and was stabbed in the back, neck, and chest with an 8-inch butcher knife Wilson grabbed from the kitchen. The knife was left at the scene.

"The news of this terrible crime has changed the lives of all the residents of Indian Head Park and throughout the surrounding area," said Indian Head Park Police Chief Frank Alonzo.

In court, prosecutors said Wilson stole Kelli's cell phone, which was tracked by the Secret Service and found to be traveling with Wilson's cell.

"The defendant used Kelli's cell phone to send text messages of a taunting and disturbing nature to Kelli's mother within hours after her murder," said Alvarez.

"The reality is that I think any of us would be horrifically na?ve to say that there will ever be true justice done here," said Cook County Sheriff's Department Sheriff Tom Dart. "Kelli has been taken from her family, and she's been taken from everyone."

Missing from the family's home after the killing: foreign coins, a cell phone, and IPod touch.

After the killing, authorities say Wilson went to a convenience store nearby. There was a disturbance call there, so a Willow Springs officer was called to the scene. Wilson, though, was not detained.

"The stop in Willow Springs was very, very helpful because it narrowed down some issues and gave a specific individual," Dart said.

After the stop in Willow Springs, Wilson allegedly took a cab to the Midway stop of the Orange Line and used coins that were missing from the family's home to pay for cab fare.

Wilson was arrested Wednesday, six days after the murder, on Chicago's South Side.

Wilson has six previous convictions dating back to 1991. They include aggravated vehicular hijacking, aggravated battery of a peace officer and selling a stolen vehicle. According to prosecutors, he has spent 17 of the last 20 years behind bars.

According to the Illinois Department of Corrections, Wilson was paroled last November from the Pontiac correctional center. He was serving time on a robbery charge.

"All of us who have children, who have teenagers, are haunted by the sickness of this crime and the total disregard for life displayed by this defendant," said Alvarez.

"The loss that the O'Laughlin family experienced - I don't think anybody could ever imagine something so horrible in their life," said Dart.

Prosecutors did not offer a motive for the murder, but given Wilson's lengthy criminal history, he likely would have spent significant time behind bars if he had been arrested for that initial burglary.

Wilson is being represented by a public defender who declined comment on the case.

Suspect's brother: Wilson had 'psychiatric problems'

The brother of John Wilson, Jr. spoke publicly Friday about the man suspected of killing 14-year-old Kelli O'Laughlin.

Wilson is now charged with first-degree murder and he was ordered held without bond.

Wilson's brother described a man who he believes suffers from some form of mental illness and who never got the help he needed while in prison, adding that he should have never been paroled, and saying he is not fit for society.

"He had problems. Psychiatric problems," Dantzler said.

In front of his South Side home, Friday afternoon Dantzler spoke of his younger brother John Wilson, Jr. and the charges that he murdered 14-year-old Kelli O'Laughlin in Indian Head Park last week. In a written letter, and on camera, Dantzler said his brother, who has been in and out of prison since 1991, has a lot of problems and should not have been released.

But Dantzler also said he can't believe this latest charge either.

"I don't think he did it. But if he did... God bless his soul, and I'm so sorry for Kelli O'Laughlin's family," said Dantzler.

Others in the neighborhood were not as shocked.

"I'm not surprised he did it. He was the type to do stuff like that. He would ask people to come rob people with him. People used to look at him, like man, you need some help," said neighbor Stefon Givens.

Wilson's relatives say he got out of prison about a year ago, lived off and on with his grandmother on the South Side and worked as a janitor, but he still seemed to have psychiatric problems.

Wilson was charged with O'Laughlin's murder Thursday, and though he was arrested at a different location, neighbors said they noticed the block was under surveillance Wednesday afternoon.

"They sat out here for as long as I can remember, and it was around 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. when I saw like 10 police officers come to the door," said neighbor Aryeh Bethea.

"I don't think he did it, but if he did, oh my God. I can't believe it," said Dantzler.

"We couldn't comprehend that this is the same young guy we know," said Wilson's relative, M.C. Campbell.

Dantzler went on to say that Wilson called him from jail Thursday, though he did not speak of the charges against him, only saying that he was OK.

Wilson's grandmother tried to help him once he was out of prison. Relatives say Wilson's father is deceased and his mother is ill.


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