CHICAGO (CBS) – A former Lake County man linked to the 2005 murders of two little girls in Zion has pleaded not guilty in the 2009 murder of a female naval officer in Virginia.
Jorge Torrez already is in prison, convicted of kidnapping and raping a woman and leaving her for dead.
“That crime rocked our community, and I think all of society is lucky he’s off the street,” Detective Crystal Nosal of the Arlington County, Va. Police told CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman.
In a federal case, Navy Petty Officer Amanda Snell was found murdered in her barracks in 2009, when Torrez was a Marine. He was indicted recently, leading to his plea Friday.
The naval officer’s killing occurred before the Arlington County case and after a case in Lake County. Sources say DNA ties Torrez to the 2005 deaths of Laura Hobbs and Crystal Tobias of Zion.
But another man, Jerry Hobbs, Laura’s dad, took the blame after giving what critics call a false, forced confession.
He sat in jail, charged until last summer.
“When you charge the wrong person, that means the right person is free to keep doing whatever he was doing, and Jorge Torrez is a prime example of that,” said Rob Warden of the Center on Wrongful Convictions, which worked on Hobbs’ case for years.
Asked about the murder of Snell, the petty officer, Warden replied: “It’s so tragic. If only six years ago someone had done the right thing, that tragedy might have been averted, that beautiful young woman might be with us today.”
Warden says when Torrez lived in Zion, he knew Crystal Tobias’ brother.
He questions why Lake County just went after Jerry Hobbs and doesn’t believe prosecutors there will ever pursue the Torrez link, despite a reported DNA tie.
There was no response from Lake County authorities Friday.