Guilty plea in 1989 stabbing death of Anna Sanders; Cold Case Task Force solved 20-year-old unsolved murder

March 5

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced a guilty plea in a 20-year-old murder case that was cracked last year by the State’s Attorney’s Office’s and the Joliet Police Department’s combined Cold Case Task Force.

Terrance Cole, 38, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on Thursday (March 5, 2009) in connection with the brutal 1989 stabbing death of Anna Sanders.

The defendant also pleaded guilty on Thursday to an unrelated home invasion from 2005 – a case that also was solved by the Cold Case Task Force.

Cole, who entered a blind plea of guilty in the murder case, faces up to 60 years in prison when he is sentenced by Circuit Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak on April 9. He faces up to an additional 12 years in prison in the home invasion case.

The Cold Case Task Force, a partnership between the Joliet Police Department and the Will County State’s Attorney’s office, was established in 2005 through a $455,000 federal grant from the National Institute of Justice. The grant provided funding for DNA testing and for the Joliet Police Department to pay investigators and evidence technicians overtime to review unsolved cases. It also provided funding for an assistant state’s attorney and a victim advocate. 

“The grant-funded Cold Case Task Force capitalized on advances in DNA technology to build a case and secure a conviction against this vicious and sadistic murderer,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “Equally important was the dedication and vigilance on the part of the Joliet detectives who refused to let such a violent homicide go unsolved.”

Cole was charged in February 2008 with first-degree murder for stabbing Anna Sanders to death in her apartment on or about April 10, 1989. The victim, who suffered multiple stab wounds, was found on the floor of her third-floor apartment by a building worker.

Cole was linked to the murder through DNA evidence collected from the crime scene. The DNA was found under the victim’s fingernails, on a cigarette butt collected at the scene and on hairs found on the victim’s nightgown.

The Cold Case Task Force also connected Cole to the home invasion that occurred on June 12, 2005 through DNA samples taken from a beer can found inside the house. In that case, Cole struck an elderly man after sneaking through the open overhead door of his attached garage on Joliet’s West Side.

Joliet Detective Phil Valera investigated the home invasion and murder cases. Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Fitzgerald reviewed the murder case prior to charging. Fitzgerald and Assistant State’s Attorneys Frank Byers and Daniel Walsh were preparing to prosecute Cole at a trial scheduled to begin on Monday when the defendant entered his guilty plea.

The Cold Case Task Force also solved the 1994 murder of Linda Dooley, who was found shot to death in her car outside a hotel parking lot in Joliet. This murder happened in broad daylight shortly after she had left a local department store. DNA evidence collected at the scene linked a drifter, Percy E. Cooksey III, to the crime. Cooksey died in a Missouri prison while serving time for an unrelated crime.