Status of the Special Grand Jury

May 20

JOLIET – The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office is releasing the following information with regard to the Special Grand Jury:

On Thursday, May 21, 2009, the term will have officially expired for the Special Grand Jury investigating the murder of Kathleen Savio, the disappearance of Stacy Peterson and the disappearance of Lisa Stebic. The term of the Special Grand Jury is set by statute at 18 months. By law, the term may not be extended.

On May 7, 2009, the Special Grand Jury indicted Drew Walter Peterson on two counts of first-degree murder alleging he murdered Kathleen Savio. The Special Grand Jury met for its final session on Tuesday, May 19, 2009. The work of this Special Grand Jury is now concluded. There are no suppressed indictments.

It is critical to note that the investigations into the disappearance of both Stacy Peterson and Lisa Stebic are not concluded. Both investigations are being pursued vigorously. Now that the term of the Special Grand Jury has expired, these investigations will be advanced by the regular Grand Jury that meets weekly in Will County.

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.

Murder charge filed in death of 12-year-old Crete boy

May 14

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announces that a first-degree murder charge was filed Thursday (May 14, 2009) against a Crete man accused of beating to death his disabled foster child in July.

Fred D. Johnson II, 43, of 3406 Beckwith Lane, Crete, also was charged with aggravated battery of a child and unlawful restraint in connection with the death of 12-year-old Kevin Johnson, who had a mental disability.

The murder charge alleges that between July 15 and July 18, Fred Johnson struck Kevin about the head and body, thereby causing his death. The aggravated battery charge alleges Fred Johnson struck Kevin about the head and body. The unlawful restraint charge alleges Fred Johnson tied Kevin to a bed frame with straps.

An additional charge of criminal neglect of a person with a disability alleges Fred Johnson failed to take one of Kevin’s siblings, a minor who also had a mental disability, to a doctor for medical attention. 

Johnson was arrested without incident by investigators from Will County State’s Attorney Glasgow’s office Thursday morning. He is scheduled to appear in court at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Courtroom 305 of the Will County Courthouse, 14 W. Jefferson St., Joliet.

At the time of his death, Kevin was living in Fred Johnson’s Crete home with his four brothers as well as four other minors who were members of his blended family. All of the other minor children were transferred to and remain in the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services.

Johnson’s arrest is the culmination of a 10-month investigation by the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office into Kevin’s death. The State’s Attorney’s Office took charge of the investigation several weeks after Kevin died.

“Kevin Johnson’s death was a tragedy. We conducted an extensive and thorough investigation and meticulously reviewed every statement and piece of evidence in filing these charges,” Glasgow said. “We will continue our investigation as we move forward with the prosecution of this case.”

The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office reminds the public that charges are not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Will County Bond History

May 8

At the media’s request, the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office is releasing the following information with regard to bonds in murder cases that have been set in Will County. The top part of the list reflects bonds that have been issued in cases that are currently open. Please note that seven defendants currently are being held without bond. Bonds range from a high of no bond to a low of $1 million. Bonds are set by judges based upon the facts alleged in each case. The bottom component of this chart includes several high profile murder cases that are closed. Research by the state’s attorney’s office is continuing.

Murder indictment issued against Drew Walter Peterson

May 7

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow and Illinois State Police Captain Carl Dobrich announce that Drew Walter Peterson was arrested today (Thursday, May 7, 2009) after a Special Grand Jury issued an indictment for first-degree murder alleging he killed Kathleen Savio five years ago.

At the request of State’s Attorney Glasgow and Illinois State Police detectives, Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak issued a warrant for Peterson’s arrest Thursday afternoon. Judge Rozak set bail for Peterson at $20 million. He must post 10 percent or $2 million to secure his release while awaiting trial.

Illinois State Police arrested Peterson without incident late Thursday afternoon during a traffic stop at Weber Road and Lily Cache Lane in Bolingbrook.

The two-count Bill of Indictment alleges that Peterson, on or about Feb. 29, 2004, “without lawful justification and with the intent to kill Kathleen Savio, caused Kathleen Savio to inhale fluid, thereby causing the death of Kathleen Savio.”

Kathleen Savio, who was Peterson’s third wife, was found dead in her bathtub on March 1, 2004. Charges were not filed in the case five years ago by the prior state’s attorney who held office when Kathleen Savio was murdered.

Glasgow reopened the case and convened a Special Grand Jury to investigate her murder in November 2007. The Special Grand Jury also is investigating the disappearance of Drew Peterson’s fourth wife, Stacy Peterson.

Drew Peterson is scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. Friday, May 8 in courtroom 405 at the Will County Courthouse, 14 W. Jefferson St., Joliet.

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 government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow appoints Ken Grey to newly created post of Chief Deputy State’s Attorney

May 6

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow is pleased to announce that Ken Grey, a local attorney with more than 25 years experience in both the civil and criminal arenas, has accepted the newly created post of Chief Deputy State’s Attorney.

In this new position, Grey will serve as State’s Attorney Glasgow’s second in command and will be responsible for the supervision of all operations in the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Grey was a senior partner for 17 years with the McKeown Law Firm, one of Will County’s oldest and most respected firms. He brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to both the Civil and Criminal Divisions. In a career that spans 26 years, he served as a felony prosecutor and the chief of the misdemeanor division for the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office as well as the village attorney for Mokena.

In 1985, Grey was appointed Mokena’s assistant village attorney serving under then Village Attorney George Sangmeister. In 1988, when Sangmeister was elected to Congress, Grey was named Mokena’s village attorney, a post he held until he came to the State’s Attorney’s Office. A 1983 graduate of John Marshall Law School, Grey is a resident of Frankfort. He is married to Toni Lee, and he is the father of five.

“Ken will be a valuable resource to all of our assistant state’s attorneys as we continue to deal with ever increasing caseloads as well as requests for service from our citizens,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “His tremendous legal background will further enhance the quality work that already is being performed by our attorneys and support staff on behalf of the public.”

In addition to Grey’s appointment, Glasgow announced that Assistant State’s Attorney Greg DeBord will take the helm of the State’s Attorney’s Office’s Felony Division. DeBord, who has been with the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office for nearly a decade, is an experienced trial attorney who also served as the office’s First Assistant State’s Attorney.

As a former police officer, DeBord’s interests are firmly rooted in the review and prosecution of felony cases. Stepping into this role, he will focus his attention on criminal prosecutions and continue to support the office’s felony prosecutors in their excellent work.

Statement Regarding Animal Cruelty Case

The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office is deeply concerned about animal abuse cases and prosecutes them as aggressively as it prosecutes every crime. In this case, this office launched a grand jury investigation that took nearly a year to complete and resulted in the felony aggravated cruelty to animal charge against the defendant.

There were a number of hurdles to clear before the felony charge could even be filed. Most notably, the office had to address problems rising from the conduct of an independent but state-sanctioned animal investigator. First of all, the investigator took it upon himself to dig up the dog’s body, which was buried in an easement on private property, without first obtaining a search warrant. Secondly, the investigator gave conflicting accounts about how he retrieved a golf club alleged to have been the weapon used to beat the dog. His irreconcilable statements rendered him virtually useless as a trial witness and might have prevented the state from entering the dog’s body as evidence at a trial. Our prosecutors felt they had resolved these issues sufficiently to pursue the felony charge, but had we lost pretrial challenges on either issue, we likely would have been forced to dismiss the entire case, allowing this defendant to walk completely free.

Knife-wielding attacker sentenced to 90 years for 2002 rape

April 27

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that a Crest Hill man who was found guilty of raping a young woman in 2002 was sentenced to 90 years in prison.

John R. Pitts Jr., 43, of 1521 Pioneer Road, was found guilty on Feb. 4 of three counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault. Pitts was sentenced on Monday, April 27 by Circuit Judge Amy Bertani-Tomczak. 

The victim testified at trial that Pitts attacked her while she was walking to work along Mississippi Avenue around 5:30 a.m. on December 5, 2002. The woman said Pitts put a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her if she moved. He then forced her into the back seat of his car and drove to Patterson Road where he sexually assaulted her. 

DNA samples collected from the victim when she was treated at the hospital matched Pitts’ DNA profile and conclusively linked him to the attack.

During the trial, Assistant State’s Attorneys Michael Fitzgerald and Tricia McKenna also presented a videotaped statement Pitts made to Joliet Police in 2006 in which he admitted to attacking the young woman “out of impulse.” 

“John Pitts is a vile miscreant who will absolutely spend the rest of his life in prison where he can never sexually assault another woman,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “This gutless, knife-wielding predator has been taken off our streets permanently, thanks to a first-rate investigation by the Joliet Police Department and the excellent trial work by my two prosecutors.”

Under Illinois law, Pitts must serve 85 percent of his sentence. He is facing criminal charges of attempted kidnapping and criminal sexual assault in cases involving three additional female victims.

Bolingbrook man guilty of sexually abusing child

April 24

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that a Bolingbrook man was found guilty on Friday of molesting a child who was visiting his home in December 2007.

A jury deliberated for one hour before finding Sylwester Gawlak, 42, of 9 Hidden Valley Court, guilty of two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault and one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He faces up to 67 years in prison when he is sentence by Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak on July 16.

Gawlak sexually abused the girl, who was under 13, on Dec. 7, 2007 in his home. Prosecutors James Long and Dant Foulk entered into evidence a letter from the Will County Jail in which Gawlak expressed embarrassment over the allegations and urged a family member to send the victim out of the country to avoid testifying against him. The defendant also acknowledged to Bolingbrook investigators who interviewed him that he had hugged and kissed the young victim while he was naked.

“Sylvester Gawlak is a dangerous predator who will be removed from our community for a long time thanks to a first-rate investigation by Bolingbrook detectives and excellent trial work by two skilled prosecutors,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “A great deal of credit also goes to the Kendall County Children’s Advocacy Center, whose videotaped interview with the young victim helped convince jurors of Gawlak’s guilt.”

State’s Attorney Glasgow’s gang prevention book now available on-line

April 24

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced on Monday that he has placed his popular gang prevention book on-line to make it easily accessible for parents and educators to read and download. 

“Gangs: Awareness, Prevention, Intervention,” a 40-page, full-color book, can now be read on the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office Web site at Click on the “Gangs: Awareness, Prevention, Intervention” icon at the bottom of the menu.

Printed copies of the book also remain available free-of-charge to local educators, community organizers and concerned parents who want to learn more about gang activity in their neighborhoods. Single copies or larger orders are available by calling the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office at (815) 723-1630. 

“Gangs: Awareness, Prevention, Intervention,” which State’s Attorney Glasgow published in 2007, is an educational book that provides details about the tattoos, clothing, graffiti and hand signals that identify the main gangs operating in Will County. More importantly, the book discusses the means by which street gangs recruit members, and it outlines strategies and services aimed at steering at-risk teen-agers away from gang influences.

“Making my gang prevention book available on-line places critical information in the hands of as many parents, teachers, counselors and school administrators as possible,” Glasgow said. “With this valuable tool at their fingertips, educators can be alert to signs of gang activity and help keep our schools, our community and our children safe.”

Gang prevention books have been an important component of Glasgow’s administration for 15 years. The state’s attorney first published several black-and-white editions of the book in the 1990s. “Gangs: Awareness, Prevention, Intervention” took the 1990s books to the next level.

The gang prevention book is an eye-catching, full-color book that will appeal to parents and teachers. All of the information is presented in short, easy-to-read chapters that are illustrated through original art as well as high-quality photographs provided by local police departments. With input from gang experts in local law enforcement, the new prevention book also includes short, real-life stories about gang cases that have been investigated and prosecuted in Will County. 

The state’s attorney developed the book in cooperation with the Joliet Township High School District’s YESS! Initiative. Funding for the initial printing was provided through a federal Safe Schools, Healthy Students grant awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

To fund additional printing costs, the state’s attorney used money seized from criminals engaged in narcotics or money laundering. No taxpayer funding was used to print the book.

To date, 16,000 copies of the book have been distributed to more than a dozen Will County school districts. A Spanish-language version of the book also is in the works will be available this spring.