Man sentenced in 1985 Glen Ellyn murder of teen girl

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A central Illinois man has been sentenced to 80 years in prison for the 1985 rape and murder of a west suburban girl. (WLS)

A central Illinois man has been sentenced to 80 years in prison for the 1985 rape and murder of a west suburban girl.

Michael Jones, 64, of Champaign, pleaded guilty Thursday to the murder and sexual assault of Kristy Wesselman, 15, in 1985 in unincorporated Glen Ellyn. He was sentenced Tuesday in Wheaton.

"It's a joyful day and a very sad day. We will always miss Kristy," said her mother, Sandy Wesselman, on Tuesday during a press conference with prosecutors after the sentencing.

WEB EXTRA: State's Attorney Bob Berlin on how investigators cracked the case
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DuPage County State's Attorney Bob Berlin discusses how to cold case murder of Kristy Wesselman was solved, and what it means for DuPage County.

Wesselman, a popular freshman at Glenbard South High School, had left home in July 1985 to go to a nearby grocery store. Investigators found her partially nude body in a field nearby. She had been stabbed at least eight times and had a shoelace tied around her neck.

In a 2011 interview, Wesselman said she has never given up hope: "It's a matter of time before someone has the courage to come forward."

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Michael Jones, 64, of Champaign, was sentenced to 80 years in prison in the rape and murder of 15-year-old Kristy Wesselman.

The crime stunned the community at the time.

"Since 1985, this case has been a black cloud over the people of DuPage County," said Bob Berlin, DuPage County state's attorney. "Today, that cloud has finally been lifted by the forces of justice."

Detectives collected DNA samples at the time. Jones was charged after his DNA matched samples from the crime scene following his 2015 conviction in Champaign County for domestic battery.

The law requiring Jones to submit DNA samples was actually inspired by Kristy's murder, and pushed by then-DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett, who is now a state appellate judge.

"We always figured that time would catch up to whoever committed this offense, that it's not the type committed by someone with no background," Birkett said. "We'll never know why he was here, but one thing we know for sure was, it was him."

Jones was originally scheduled for trial Tuesday before he entered his plea. While he could have faced a maximum sentence of life in prison, the state asked the 80-year sentence.

He also has a history of violence and had twice been convicted of raping girls in the 1970's before killing Wesselman.

In 1977, Jones sexually assaulted Geri Michael and was sentenced to between 10 and 20 years, but let go after six. She said Tuesday that things could have been different if he wasn't released early.

"Had he served at least the 10 years, we wouldn't be here today for this," Michael said.

Judy Van Kirk, another of Jones' victims, also attended the sentencing.

"Michael Jones got what he deserved. I wish it was a little bit sooner," she said.
Related Topics:
cold casemurderhomicidehomicide investigationGlen EllynWheaton
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