Family killed in Wilmette identified

Man had 1985 murder conviction
March 3, 2009 4:28:04 PM PST
The medical examiner has identified the three people killed in an apparent murder-suicide in Wilmette.Police in the northern suburb continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths. They found the bodies of 54-year-old Richard Wiley; his wife, 50-year-old Kathy Wiley-Motes; and his stepson, 17-year-old Christopher Motes inside the home following a well-being check. They believe Richard Wiley, who was convicted in a 1985 murder, shot and killed his wife and stepson before turning the gun on himself.

Police confirmed that Wiley used a Civil War replica gun to kill his wife and stepson before turning the gun on himself.

The Civil War gun was a legally obtained gun owned by the shooter's stepson who used it in the Civil War reenactments he loved so much.

One woman came to the house on Tuesday to mourn her friend and tell a story. She left behind a piece of artist's chalk as a symbol of the love for art she and Christopher Motes shared.

"He was such a good kid. He had a lot to say. He was...miles out of the box. He made everybody really happy," said Karra Linney.

But even as friends and family mourn, the investigation into the double murder-suicide continues. On Tuesday morning, forensic experts were on the scene of the Wiley-Motes family home. Evidence is still being collected and a much clearer picture of what happened there is emerging thanks in part to the shooter's own words.

"There were notes found in different areas of the house. One was just inside the door, indicating that if somebody had gone in other than the police, to stop and contact the Wilmette Police Department," said Dep. Chief Brian King, Wilmette Police.

According to police, another note was a rambling 40-page letter where 54-year-old Richard Wiley said he shot his wife and stepson as a result of an argument. Then he appears to have killed himself Sunday night because, he says in his letter, he did not want to go back to prison where he had served for previously fatally stabbing his previous wife.

"He grabbed a dagger they had as an African wall hanging and brutally slayed her, stabbing her multiple, multiple times," said James Morici, former prosecutor.

The pastor at the church nearby said people were well aware of the previous conviction and other issues.

"Our faith community welcomed him and sought to help him with his rehabilitation to a full, healthy life," said Pastor Sarah Butter, First Presbyterian Church of Wilmette.

No signs to warn family of danger

Officials say there were no signs that could have warned friends or family in the days leading up to the double murder and suicide.

"From doing a background interview yesterday with family and friends, there is actually nothing that predicted this level of violence," said Deputy Chief Brian King, Wilmette Police Department.

In 1985, Richard Wiley murdered his previous wife, Ruth. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison after a judge rejected his claims of insanity. Wiley was paroled in 2000 for good behavior. At the time of that murder, police said Wiley was leaning over the victim, hugging her and crying, when they arrived on the scene.

Officials said there was no history of domestic violence between Wiley and Wiley-Motes or Motes. During a press conference on Tuesday, officials said they believe Wiley shot and killed his wife and stepson on Saturday afternoon and then shot himself on Sunday night. The timeframe is based on a handwritten note from Wiley.

"It's about a 40-page rather extensive, kind of a dissertation of difficulties that Mr. Wiley is having," said King.

The weapon, which was found next to Wiley, is a Civil War-era gun that belonged to Motes, who was a Civil War buff and had a state of Illinois firearms permit. Motes was a senior at New Trier High School.

"I knew Chris very well, since freshman year at high school. He was a great kid to be around, a great classmate, too," said Robbie Zoline, friend, New Trier student.

"A lot of people knew him. A lot of people really loved him. So, I mean, he will be missed," said Alex Eyber, New Trier student.

Crisis counselors were at New Trier on Tuesday to help students and staff cope with the teenager's death.

The home, located in the 800-block of Greenleaf Avenue, where their bodies were found belongs to the First Presbyterian Church of Wilmette. Wiley-Motes worked for the church. On Monday night, church members held a prayer service for the three.

"I think there is a lot of speculation going on in trying to understand the events that are not understandable of this week," said Pastor Butter.

"There's just no way to explain anything of this nature," said John Nye, church member.