Indictment handed down in unsolved Frankfort murder; 8-year-old cold case moves towards prosecution
JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow and Frankfort Police Chief Robert Piscia today announced that a grand jury has indicted a former Blue Island man in connection with a 1998 murder that was Frankfort’s only civilian homicide in the village’s 127-year history.
The four-count indictment for first-degree murder against Anthony Brescia, 51, marks a breakthrough in the investigation of a brutal slaying that has remained unsolved for eight years.
The grand jury indictment also sustains Glasgow’s decision in 1999 to dismiss murder charges against another man who was the initial focus of the investigation.
Juliet Chinn, 43, was found stabbed to death inside her Frankfort condominium on May 18, 1998.
The evidence led investigators to focus on a man who was Chinn’s longtime coworker and boyfriend. The Palos Hills man was charged with murder after an intensive investigation that included a key forensic expert’s opinion regarding blood splatter patterns found at the crime scene.
Glasgow, however, personally reviewed the case and questioned the expert opinion. He dismissed the murder charges after calling in another internationally renowned forensic scientist to examine the blood spatter patterns.
Tom Bevel, a former Oklahoma City police investigator and an associate professor of forensic science, is a respected expert in blood spatter analysis. Bevel, who also authored a text on the subject, confirmed Glasgow’s doubts as to the original opinion.
“After countless reviews over a period of time, I had become increasingly troubled about the validity of the original blood spatter analysis,” Glasgow said. “As a result, I brought in a top expert in this forensic field to review the evidence. After consulting extensively with Professor Bevel and discussing the case with local investigators, I was convinced that I needed to dismiss the charges in the interest of justice.”
The case was eligible for the death penalty upon conviction. Glasgow and his team had not determined whether to pursue the death penalty when the decision was made to dismiss the charges in 1999.
Glasgow said he recognized at the time that dropping the charges would be difficult for Chinn’s family. The state’s attorney said he sympathized with the desire for swift justice.
This week’s indictment against Brescia, who currently is serving a 45-year sentence for a murder he committed in Palos Park four months after Chinn’s slaying, validated Glasgow’s decision.
Acting on new information, Frankfort Detectives Will Dowding and Kevin Keegan visited Brescia at Pontiac Correctional Center earlier this year. The murder indictment was the result of a thorough examination of all newly discovered evidence in light of their investigation.
“I hope this indictment is the first step in finally bringing closure for the victim’s family as well as for the Frankfort community,” Glasgow said.
Glasgow credited Frankfort police, including Chief Piscia and Detectives Dowding and Keegan, for their thorough investigation of the new leads. Glasgow’s investigators, Detectives Pete Piazza and Daniel Procarione, also assisted in the investigation.
The state’s attorney also praised former prosecutor John McCabe and current Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Fitzgerald for their assistance in analyzing the blood spatter evidence in 1999.
Brescia is scheduled to appear for arraignment in Will County Circuit Court in Joliet on Tuesday, June 20.
The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office reminds the public that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the state has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.