Ex Murder Suspect Files Suit In Botched Investigation

Jerry Hobbs was released after spending 5 years in jail for the murders of his daughter and her friend.

Updated: 12/02/10 5:07 pm.

CHICAGO (CBS) – He says he can never be repaid for the years he lost, but Jerry Hobbs is still looking for answers. He was wrongly accused of murdering his own daughter and her friend.

He spent five long years in prison, even though DNA evidence could have cleared him. Hobbs is now going after the investigators who put him away.

Hobbs says Lake County law enforcement officers went out of their way to frame him. In fact, he says they used violence to force him to confess.

“I was a broke man, and I just gave them what they wanted,” said Jerry Hobbs.

Hobbs says that forced confession was the beginning of his five-year nightmare, which began with the murders of his 8-year-old daughter Laura and her 9-year-old friend Krystal Tobias.

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Right after Hobbs found their bodies in a field near his former home in Zion, Hobbs says investigators zoomed in on him and never looked at anyone else.

After a nearly 24-hour interrogation, he falsely confessed to murdering the two girls.

“I asked for a lawyer twice. I tried to walk out, they wouldn’t let me walk out,” said Hobbs.

“The defendants who we’ve sued in this lawsuit chose to brutalize and coerce physically and psychologically torture Jerry Hobbs into making a confession to that heinous crime,” said Attorney Locke Bowman of Northwestern Center for Justice. “When they did that, they, in the public eye, converted this good and decent man from the loving father that he is and was, into a public monster.”

Hobbs immediately tried to retract his confession, but prosecutors continued to push forward in, what they said, was a potential death penalty case.

Hobbs and his attorneys say what investigators didn’t focus on was DNA evidence found on and near the girls’ bodies that would have cleared him.

“The prosecutor came up in the courtroom, we all came up, and there was semen all over the bodies: in them, on them, around them,” said Hobbs. “And it didn’t match me. And they still were trying to charge me.”

Hobbs found the girls’ bodies in May of 2005. DNA evidence was later tested and, in 2006, attorneys say prosecutors knew it didn’t match Hobbs. Even so, he sat in jail for four more years until his release in August.

“The prosecutors would not listen to reason,” Bowman said.

Further testing later matched that DNA to Jorge Torres, 21, a former U.S. Marine and former Zion resident. Torres is now serving time in a Virginia prison after being convicted of kidnapping and raping a college student.

Hobbs’ lawyers say the Virginia crime would never have happened if Lake County investigators hadn’t botched their investigation by focusing on Hobbs.

“There in fact was evidence out there at the time which showed that the two little girls, before they had been murdered, were with Jorge Torres,” said John Stainthorp of People’s Law Office.

When asked if he still thinks about his daughter Laura, Jerry Hobbs said, “It’s not as hard as it was then, but I think about her every day, what kind of lady she would have been now.”

Despite the DNA match, Jorge Torres has not been charged with the girls’ murders.

Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Waller did not return any calls for comment on this case and the civil rights lawsuit.

He is not named in that, but many members of the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force are defendants. Its chief says it would be inappropriate to comment on pending litigation.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov and Mike Puccinelli contributed to this report.

  • FR

    Perhaps the erronious prosecuters should be prosecuted.

  • Gee-reg

    How could any man be forced by law enforcement of this country to admitt that he killed his 8 year daughter and her 9 year old friend. Law enforcement of this country did not use electric current on his testicles, did not use needles under the nails or any other type of pain. Law enforcement of this country just used the only meathod allowed by law – TALKING- If this man had nothing to do with the murders how could any amount of talking make him admitt he killed his daughter and her friend ???

    • Lin Cornetti

      this type of coercion is much more common than you think. To deprive a suspect of sleep, of food, to subject him to relentless accusations, to plant doubt in his mind, has resulted in many false confessions by men, women, and teenagers. It isn’t new. Studies have shown for years that innocent people can be forced to admit to horrific acts under brutal enough conditions. So I don’t doubt he is telling teh truth.

      • Gee-reg

        To plant doubt in your mind REALLY So if some cop tells me I really killed my child and I did not, some cop is going to put doubt in my mind Are you for real ??

  • shane

    In Georgia we just sent 26 cops to jail and more coming over a five year period. These criminals should get no mercy nor for that matter the prosecutor. They should face charges here and in Virginia. Here for what they did and didn’t do and Virginia for prosecute-rial misconduct resulting in grievous bodily harm. All prison terms should be served consecutively with NO chance of parole.

  • shane

    Gee-reg I’m not sure which country YOU live in but where I live the police do what they can to get a conviction started…lie, beat, threaten etc. I have been involved in investigation of torture by the Atlanta police force and I’m aware of a lot more like what is being examined here in Chicago right now which covers 20+ years of physical abuse against hundreds of citizens. Do you think this is funny? Do you think because it hasn’t happened to you or your friends or family that those it does happen to deserve it?? Problem around here is so many people believe that if it does happen then the victims had it coming. What will you say when it happens to you and no one believes you Gee-reg.

    • Gee-reg

      Shane you have been watching too much fantasy t.v. shows. All those alleged abuse cases in Chicago have NEVER been proven. All those convicted murderers knew details of the crime that an innocent man would not know of. And Oh BOY you have been involved in Atlanta alleged torture what does that mean you think you’re some expert now. And tell me would you really care if the mean police man yelled at some maggot that killed one of your children ? I would not mind at all.

  • Mike Finnerty

    Remember all of those people who were beaten,tortured and falsely convicted when DALEY was states attorney? he claims he didn’t know it happened!!!!!!! Can you say B.S.?????

    • SJ

      do you in any way think Daley was told they were beaten and torchered. Get real.

  • SJ

    Just because They found someone elses DNA only means he didn’t rape her. Doesn’t mean Jerry didn’t have anything to do with this.

  • Trial watchdog

    SJ 1) It’s TORTURED not TORCHERED 2) Allegations were made at each of their trials that weren’t investigated and SHOULD HAVE BEEN if proper LEGAL MISCONDUCT INVESTIGATIVE PROCEDURES were carried out which is the DUTY OF THE STATES ATTORNIES OFFICE 3) YOU get real….

  • shane

    I don’t watch tv Gee-reg. I was involved in Georgia by witnessing actual beatings by the police to persons in custody. I was reporting to the FBI Ga.division in 1969. As to the fantasy, well I’ll leave that to you little boys and girls from the ‘burbs who probably only see a cop when you drink and drive. Don’t call people liars unless you can do it to their faces, it makes you look like a coward. Which I’m predisposed to believe you are and a pretty stupid one at that.

    • Gee-reg


  • A father

    I Live in zion, in fact my kids played with one of the victims and i lived a block away from them. And I hate what zion pd and lake county did to this man (I did not know him.) and I guess I can blame the media. I do believe the police had to blame someone and it had to be fast. honestly when i heard he confessed i was so relieved. Now I feel those girls will never get justice and lake couty will probably not prosecute. (I think everone hates being lied to…………
    By Joel Roberts
    ZION, Ill., May 10, 2005
    “Zion police chief Doug Malcolm calls it a “heinous crime” and says “no stone will be left unturned” as they try to find the person or persons responsible.
    The Zion Police Department has no suspects, and when asked at a press conference if a murderer was on the loose, replied: “Well, we have two murdered children and no arrest.””

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