Judge hands down 60-year sentence in 20-year-old Joliet murder

May 14

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced Thursday (May 14, 2009) that a man who pleaded guilty in March to committing a murder 20 years ago was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Terrance Cole, 38, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on March 5 in connection with the brutal 1989 stabbing death of Anna Sanders. The case was cracked last year by the State’s Attorney’s Office’s and the Joliet Police Department’s combined Cold Case Task Force.

The defendant also pleaded guilty to an unrelated home invasion from 2005 – a case that also was solved by the Cold Case Task Force. He was sentenced to 12 years on Thursday for the home invasion.

Circuit Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak handed down the maximum prison sentence under the law for the murder.

“Terrance Cole is a remorseless killer who thought he had escaped justice with the passage of time,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “But thanks to advances in DNA analysis and the tireless dedication of Joliet detectives and my prosecutors, this vicious monster likely will spend the rest of his life in prison.”

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. 

Cole was charged in February 2008 with first-degree murder for stabbing Anna Sanders to death in her apartment on 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 20 years ago. 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 take Cole to trial in March 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.