Tommy Crockwell gets 50 years for University Park murder of teenager

February 1

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announces that a Country Club Hills man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison after being found guilty of first-degree murder for the slaying of a teenager five years ago in University Park.

Circuit Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak found Tommy Crockwell, 47, guilty of murdering 19-year-old Johnny Rouse at the conclusion of a bench trial in November. Judge Bertani-Tomczak sentenced him on Wednesday.

Crockwell hid in bushes and crept up behind Rouse as walked down a path in a park on the evening of Oct. 26, 2011. The defendant, who was 41 at the time, shot the young man once in the back of the neck. Rouse, who died before his body hit the ground, was discovered by a passerby later that evening. Crockwell gunned down Rouse because he believed he had robbed his younger brother, according to testimony and evidence presented at trial.

Asked by the informant why he didn’t confront his victim face-to-face, Crockwell responded that he didn’t want to be identified if something went wrong and Rouse did not die.

“Tommy Crockwell committed the most cowardly of murders by sneaking up in the night on a youth half his age and then shooting him in the back of the neck,” said State’s Attorney Glasgow. “Credit goes to the University Park Police, the Will-Grundy Major Crimes Task Force, and my prosecutors, Peter Wilkes, Dan Egan, and Sondra Denmark, for taking this dangerous killer off our streets.”

Several months after the murder, police received word from an informant that Crockwell had told him he killed Rouse. The informant, who had known Crockwell for years, wore a wire for investigators and visited Crockwell at his home in January of 2012.

During a 33-minute recorded conversation, which was played at trial, Crockwell shared details of the shooting only the murderer would know, including the manner in which the victim fell, that he was still wearing headphones connected to his MP3 player, and the type of weapon he used: a .40-caliber handgun.