The year in crime: First-degree murder, DUI-related deaths, sexual assault among the major suburban crimes for 2021
For the first time in 27 years, the Cook County medical examiner's office registered more than 1,000 homicides in 2021.
While a majority of the 1,087 homicides -- 836 -- were in Chicago, Cook County suburbs also experienced its share, including the death of a Wheeling woman and the kidnapping of her infant daughter, who was later found dead in an Indiana pond.
In DuPage County, a fatal shooting at a Bloomingdale hotel remains unsolved, while in Kane County, a fatal shooting outside a St. Charles nightclub resulted in first-degree murder charges.
Here's a look back at some of the other major crimes that took place in the suburbs last year.
• A Cook County judge denied bail for a Pingree Grove man charged with murdering his former girlfriend and kidnapping her infant daughter.
According to prosecutors, Ahmeel Fowler picked up 21-year-old Ja'nya Murphy and her 17-month-old daughter, Jaclyn "Angel" Dobbs, from their Wheeling apartment on Nov. 8 for a shopping trip to Schaumburg's Woodfield Mall.
Family members requested a well-being check when they couldn't reach Murphy the following day. Police discovered her body Nov. 10. The baby was found dead in a retention pond in Hammond, Indiana.
Fowler was subsequently extradited from Springfield, Missouri. In his vehicle police found multiple bottles of bleach, a knife covered in bloodstains, and bloodstained clothing saturated with bleach.
• In exchange for pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the 2020 stabbing death of Glenbrook South High School rising sophomore Elias Valdez, a teenage assailant was sentenced to probation and 100 hours of community service. Charged with second-degree murder, the now 17-year-old defendant was tried in juvenile court. The judge ordered his name not be published.
Prosecutors say Valdez arranged to buy marijuana from the defendant but fled without paying. The defendant gave chase and a struggle ensued, during which Valdez was stabbed. Valdez's mother, who believed the defendant should have been tried for murder in adult court, expressed disappointment in the sentence, saying she did not believe justice was served by probation and community service.
• Prosecutors say 32-year-old Lamar C. Graves of Bellwood had alcohol and marijuana in his system when he struck a disabled vehicle on the northbound shoulder of Route 53 last February, killing two sisters and their sons.
Graves' vehicle was traveling more than 88 mph when it struck the car driven by Schaumburg resident Stacy Harris, who was on the phone seeking roadside assistance at the time of the crash, authorities said.
Killed along with Harris were her 17-year-old son Jeremy Johnson, also of Schaumburg; her sister, Herlanda L. Harris, 47, of Chicago; and Herlanda Harris' 6-year-old son, Jimarion Harris. Authorities say witnesses reported seeing Graves toss a bottle of alcohol from his car following the crash. A bag of cannabis was also recovered near his vehicle, authorities said.
• The attorney for 17-year-old Guillermo Perez-Moreno said her client acted in self-defense when he fatally stabbed Manuel Porties Jr., 18, last September during a fight outside a Schaumburg residence.
Prosecutors say Perez-Moreno and Porties were "friends who periodically engaged in marijuana purchases" whose friendship had soured. Threats and taunts on social media fueled heated exchanges over the phone and on social media, which led to threats and what Porties believed would be a fistfight outside the Schaumburg home. Witnesses captured the fight on cellphone video, authorities said.
Perez-Moreno was ordered held on $350,000 cash bond, meaning he must post the entire amount to be released from custody.
The charges marked a reversal by the Cook County state's attorney's office, which initially declined to prosecute Perez-Moreno citing insufficient evidence. That was over objections from police and Porties' family who argued murder was the appropriate charge.
• A 21-year-old Hoffman Estates man was charged with first-degree murder after authorities say he stabbed an acquaintance 50 times with a kitchen knife after the two got into an argument following an evening of drinking. Francisco Palomares-Mendez was ordered held without bail.
• The Des Plaines man charged in the Mount Prospect crash that killed a Des Plaines couple and their 31-year-old son last March was held on a $750,000 cash bond, meaning Garrett Kowalski, 25, has to post the entire amount to be released from custody. Authorities say Kowalski was traveling between 104 and 108 mph in a 40 mph zone and ran two red lights before his vehicle crashed into the trio on March 7, 2021.
• The West Dundee man responsible for a horrific 2018 Hoffman Estates crash that claimed the lives of an 82-year-old South Barrington woman and her 50-year-old daughter, pleaded guilty to aggravated DUI causing death. Michael Kelley's blood alcohol content was nearly four times the legal limit on Aug. 3, 2018, when he struck the women's car head-on at 83 mph. In exchange for his guilty plea, the 51-year-old was sentenced to 23 years in prison.
• In 2016, Jacquelyn Greco was sentenced to 30 years in prison for her part in the still unsolved 1979 murder of her husband Carl Gaimari in their Inverness home. Prosecutors said greed motivated Greco and her then-lover, a Chicago policeman, to arrange what appeared to be a home invasion, which concluded with the shooting death of Gaimari, a commodities trader. In 2020, to the dismay of Gaimari's family, the appellate court overturned her conviction and ordered a new trial. Instead, Greco pleaded guilty last February and was sentenced to 22 years in prison. According to 1979 ruling, the 74-year-old must serve at least 50% of her sentence before she is eligible for parole. With time served, she is eligible for parole in 2024.
• A Bensenville man has been charged with attempted murder, accused of shooting a Bensenville police officer nine times just before 1 a.m. Nov. 6. Officer Steven Kotlewski was responding to a call by Kionte Tyler's mother to get her son to leave her apartment when Tyler opened fire on him, according to authorities. Kotlewski spent six weeks in a hospital and in a rehabilitation center, and is still undergoing rehabilitation, for damage to an arm, his knees, his legs and his back. Tyler, who is charged with attempted murder, is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he is fit to stand trial.
• Anthony L. Lane of Glendale Heights was charged with home invasion and aggravated criminal sexual assault, accused of attacking and raping a 92-year-old woman in her home in Addison in November. She had just returned home from a dialysis treatment and was entering her house when the suspect forced his way in, authorities said.
• A Chicago man died, and at least a half-dozen other people were injured, in a shooting Feb. 6 at the Indian Lakes Hotel in Bloomingdale. James McGill Jr., 27, a South Side rapper known as FBG Meezle, was killed when a fight broke out. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, he was a cousin of Carlton Weekly, also known as rapper FBG Duck, who was shot to death in 2020 in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago. No one has been charged in McGill's death. Bloomingdale police say there were more than 100 people staying at the hotel who were involved in the incident, but witnesses are not cooperating with authorities. Police also said the hotel had only one employee working that night. The village revoked the hotel's business license after the shooting. The hotel was once part of a destination resort that included a golf course and banquet facility.
• Two employees of Cordia Senior Living in Westmont were charged in connection with the death of a 96-year-old woman who died Feb. 3 after she was left overnight in a van. Bert Mongreig, 63, of Westmont was charged with two felony counts of criminal neglect of a long-term care resident resulting in death. Navdeep Dhall, 43, of Bolingbrook was charged with one felony count of criminal
• An argument between three men standing in line at a pretzel shop two days before Christmas resulted in a shooting that left one of the men and four bystanders with gunshot wounds at the Oakbrook Center shopping mall, prosecutors say. Steve L. Lane, 29, and Tyran Williams, 32, both of Chicago, are facing multiple felony charges in connection with the Dec. 23 shooting at the mall in Oak Brook. Lane could face up to 30 years in prison under the most serious charge against him, and Williams could face 15 years in prison.
• A woman sustained severe spinal injuries when she was shot while eating her lunch in her car in the parking lot of a Wendy's restaurant on the west side of Aurora Jan. 16. Edward McGee of Harvey, Darrell Frazier of Lansing, and a 16-year-old boy from Lansing were charged with aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated vehicular hijacking, armed violence and possession of a stolen vehicle. A fourth suspect -- a 15-year-old boy -- was killed Jan. 23 during a carjacking in Lansing. The Kane County state's attorney's office is asking that the 16-year-old be tried as an adult.
• Three men were charged with second-degree murder, accused of beating a man to death June 10 at a West Dundee gasoline station's parking lot. Kurt Doporcyk, 41, of Algonquin; Ryan Barrett, 32, of Huntley; and Peter Stoyshich, 30, of Belize and Tallahassee, Florida, were also charged with aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, aggravated battery in a public place and mob action. Authorities say they assaulted 52-year-old Alex T. Hall Jr. of Carpentersville, who died several days later. Barrett and Doporcyk are free on bail while awaiting trial. Stoyshich has yet to be arrested; police believe he is staying in Belize.
• Aurora resident Khalief McAllister, 23, was killed, and three other people were injured, during a shooting June 27 outside the Trilogy nightclub in western St. Charles. Michael Carwell, 24, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and three counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. The club had only been in business for two months. At the time, McAllister was free on bail awaiting trial on a charge of attempted murder in DeKalb County.
• Marek Josko, who fled to Poland to avoid prosecution for his role in the fatal crash that killed Waukegan resident Dennis Bourassa Dec. 9, 1995, was found guilty of reckless homicide by a Lake County jury this year. Police were unable to locate Josko in Poland, and for decades it was considered a "cold case." But after several years of work put in by a team of local officers and officials at the U.S. Embassy in Poland, U.S. Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs and the FBI, Josko was arrested in February 2020 in Przemysl, a city in far southeastern Poland. His extradition was delayed by the pandemic, but eventually he was tried and found guilty. A judge sentenced Josko to 12 years in prison at a hearing in November.
• Israel Suaste-Gonzalez, 50, a former Lake County special education teacher's aide who admitted to sexually abusing a student, was sentenced to 24 years in prison after coming to a plea deal with prosecutors. Authorities say Suaste-Gonzalez committed the crimes from 2016 to 2018, when he was working as a paraprofessional at a Special Education District of Lake County facility in Grayslake. The facility specializes in preparing students ages 18 to 21 for life beyond high school. The student, who called Suaste-Gonzalez her teacher, said he molested her multiple times at the school, prosecutors said. The student believed she was required to participate because her "teacher" repeatedly said so and told her not to tell anyone, authorities said.
• Three men were charged with sex crimes in 2021 after communicating with undercover detectives posing as children online. Steven S. Tipman of Antioch Township believed he was chatting with 12-year-old girls. He shared nude photos with the undercover detectives and was charged in March with failing to register a social media account as a sex offender, unlawful contact with a child by a child sexual offender and grooming. He remains in jail. Aaron C. Cornelius of Wonder Lake was arrested after driving to Warren Township to meet who he thought was a 14-year-old girl who turned out to be an undercover detective. Cornelius was charged with indecent solicitation of a child in August and remains in Lake County jail. And Bruce L. Chamberlin, who lives near Mundelein, asked an undercover detective he thought was a 14-year-old boy for a nude picture. In November, Chamberlin was charged with grooming and two counts of violating the sexual offender registry. He remains in Lake County jail.
• In June, Naperville police and Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow announced the 1972 murder of 15-year-old Julie Ann Hanson had been solved. Former Naperville resident Barry L. Whelpley, 76, was arrested at his Minnesota home. Authorities used a forensic genealogy firm to look for a match to DNA collected from Hanson's body. They say they found connections to Whelpley, his father and a brother. He is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated criminal sexual assault. Hanson went missing July 7, 1972, and her body was found the next day in a farm field near 87th Street and Modaff Road. She had been stabbed 36 times and sexually assaulted, according to authorities.