Arrest made in murder of University Park teen

January 26, 2012 2:51:31 PM PST
An arrest has been made in the murder of a south suburban teenager last October. A three-month investigation resulted in the arrest of a Country Club Hills man.

It is something the father of Johnny "Duke" Rouse says he has wondered if it would ever happen. Thursday morning, for an emotional Keith Rouse, news of the arrest was bittersweet. That's because, although he now knows who police say murdered his son, he still doesn't know why.

"I'm glad they are resolving this, because I was beginning to think that it wasn't going to be resolved," said Keith Rouse, the victim's father.

Keith Rouse finally has some closure. Nearly three months after his son was murdered, police say they have caught his killer.

"I am pleased to announce the arrest of Tommy Crockwell of Country Club Hills for the October 27, 2011, homicide of 19-year-old Johnny "Duke" Rouse," said University Park Police Chief Mel Davis.

Investigators say the teen was shot in the back of the neck at the suburb's Craig Park. His father says it is the same park where his son developed his love of sports, especially baseball.

"My son, he was one heck of a baseball player. I used to listen to him bat, and he had one of those swings that you could hear," said Rouse.

When 19-year-old Rouse was found dead in the park on October 26, 2011, his iPod, cell phone and a fruit drink were nearby. Thursday morning, investigators would not say exactly what happened that night or give a motive for the crime, only saying it was not random.

"At this point, I would not like to discuss the motive," said Chief Davis.

Rouse's murder is the first in University Park in over 10 years.

"This actually is the first murder we've had for some time in University Park," said University Park Mayor Vivian Covington. "Our ratios for murders are very, very, very low, and they were just very, very happy that this comprehension (sic) was done."

Crockwell was taken into custody on Wednesday and remains in a police lockup.

A friend of the suspect, who asked not to be identified, said the 42-year-old sometimes construction worker and father of four is not the man who committed the crime.

"He's quiet. He's not a loud talking person, interacting with a lot of different people, he's a good father," the friend told ABC7 via telephone.

Meanwhile, Keith Rouse still struggles with not knowing the reason why his son was targeted.

Prosecutors have charged Crockwell with two counts of first-degree murder. He is being held on $1 million and could be arraigned in a Will County courtroom on Monday.

Police add that the investigation launched with the help of the Will County Major Crimes Taskforce is on-going.