News Local news Breaking News Sex offender charged in rape, murder that led to Dixmoor 5 case "I haven't had a good night's sleep in 25 years," said Theresa Matthews, who is coping with word of new charges in the murder of her daughter, Cateresa Matthews. Five teens who were convicted of the crime were freed five years ago. Then five years ago, DNA evidence exonerated the men — by then known as the Dixmoor Five — and pointed instead to a convicted sex offender as the killer.
Matthews, who only wanted justice for her daughter, was deeply frustrated. You have the DNA. Handout On Thursday, nearly a quarter-century after Cateresa was abducted as she waited for a bus, that sex offender, Willie Randolph, 58, will appear in the Markham courthouse to face charges of murder, kidnapping and predatory criminal sexual assault, according to authorities. The charges follow an investigation that began anew in after the Dixmoor police chief asked Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart for assistance with the case and prosecutors from the county state's attorney's cold case unit joined in.
Besides the DNA evidence, Randolph made incriminating statements recently in prison to a witness — "with much bravado," according to a law enforcement official.
Those statements, according to the official, were secretly recorded and helped convince prosecutors that there was finally sufficient evidence to take the case to trial.
Randolph was being held at Stateville Correctional Center on a drug conviction, state records show. He was scheduled to be paroled in March, but officials kept him behind bars because an approved housing site could not be found, a requirement before a registered sex offender can be released.
But he was set to be released in less than three weeks, authorities said. The investigation of Cateresa's killing highlighted many of the deep flaws in Cook County's criminal justice system, in particular the reluctance of prosecutors to abandon cases built on confessions even when they've been undermined by DNA evidence.
Cateresa disappeared in November after she left her grandmother's Dixmoor residence to return home. Three weeks passed before her body was found in a field near Interstate 57 with a single gunshot wound in the mouth. She had also been raped. The crime went unsolved for close to a year before five teens were arrested.
Primitive DNA testing failed to link any of the five to the crime, but three of them confessed and implicated the other two. Two — Robert Lee Veal and Shainnie Sharp — agreed to testify against the other three in exchange for reduced prison terms. But police in Dixmoor were unable to locate the evidence, delaying the testing. By , the case began to unravel after DNA tests failed to link any of the teens to the crime and instead pointed to Randolph, who had been paroled and released near Cateresa's home before her death.
Later that year, prosecutors cleared the men, although Alvarez said she had struggled to reconcile the confessions with the DNA evidence. Alvarez, who called the case "convoluted and confusing," balked at declaring the five innocent, even though teens are particularly susceptible to making false confessions. She suggested, too, that the DNA evidence alone did not prove that Randolph had raped and killed Cateresa. Alvarez triggered an outcry when, during an interview for the TV program "60 Minutes," she left open the possibility that necrophilia had been involved.
Randolph, she suggested, could have happened on the crime scene after the slaying and had sex with Cateresa's body. Alvarez later angrily disavowed the interview, saying it had been "one-sided and extremely misleading" and that her comments had been distorted. Still, prosecutors did not charge Randolph, and the killing remained unsolved, causing continuing anguish for Theresa Matthews.
I thought everything was over with. It was really stressful to hear they were the wrong people. Then they didn't charge this new person. I couldn't understand it. Taylor, Harden and Barr served close to two decades in prison before they were set free. In an interview, Cara Smith, chief policy officer at the sheriff's office, said that bringing the investigation of Randolph to a close was tough and time-consuming.
Fourteen-year-old Cateresa was raped and murdered in Last week, authorities announced they were re-opening the notorious case that resulted in the convictions That work included the testimony of a number of witnesses before a Cook County grand jury. Sheriff's investigators also obtained another DNA swab from Randolph to confirm the initial match from the DNA evidence recovered from Cateresa's body.
Smith said investigators were confident Randolph acted alone and that none of the Dixmoor Five was involved in any way. She said investigators believe Cateresa was waiting at a bus stop after leaving her grandmother's when Randolph abducted her, took her to the field near the highway, sexually assaulted her and shot her in the mouth with a.
Randolph has close to a dozen convictions dating to the s. Theresa Matthews said her daughter had spoken of becoming an accountant. She liked numbers and was good at math. She liked to swim, too, and she told her mother she hoped to have a house with a yard big enough for a pool. Now, Matthews said she plans to attend every hearing in court again.
That's the only way I won't be there," she said. I have to speak for her. I want justice for her. It's up to me to speak for my baby.