UPDATED 11/04/11 12:41 p.m.
INDIAN HEAD PARK, Ill. (CBS) — Authorities have charged a parolee in the grisly murder of 14-year-old Kelli O’Laughlin in Indian Head Park, and say he taunted the girl’s mother with text messages afterward.
John Wilson Jr., 38, whose last known address was in the 7900 block of South Lafayette Avenue, was denied bond at hearing Friday morning at the Bridgeview Courthouse, on charges of residential burglary and first-degree murder. Bridgeview Judge Peter Felice said Wilson poses a public threat and cannot be released.
Prosecutors say Wilson has spent only three years out of jail since 1991. In that time, he has racked up five prior convictions, including drug dealing, burglary and armed robbery.
His most recent conviction was in September 2002 when he was sentenced to 11 years in prison for vehicle invasion and robbery. He had been paroled on Nov. 16, 2010, having become eligible after serving 50 percent of his sentence.
“This is a person who was paroled back in November of last year, who came into this very beautiful town a week ago to commit a burglary, broke into a house, and killed a beautiful 14-year-old little girl,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said.
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Wilson had been spotted near the O’Laughlins’ house by three witnesses between 2:45 and 3:30 p.m. that day. Kelli had gotten off the bus from school at 3:40 p.m. and entered the house, only to be confronted by Wilson, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said.
Wilson stabbed Kelli when she walked in the front door and dragged her from the family room to the kitchen, Assistant State’s Attorney Peter Troy said at the suspect’s bond hearing. The teen was pronounced dead at LaGrange Memorial Hospital in LaGrange soon afterward, Alvarez said. Authorities say she had been stabbed several times in the neck, chest and the back.
Wilson allegedly used a butcher knife that had been on a butcher block in the kitchen. The Chicago Cutlery carving knife with a blade length of 8 inches found next to pool of blood, Troy said.
The house was ransacked, and Wilson took a bowl filled with various types of foreign coins, Alvarez said. He also took Kelli’s cell phone and an iPod touch, she said.
In the hours after the murder, Wilson sent Kelli’s mother text messages of “a taunting and disturbing nature” from Kelli’s cell phone, Alvarez said.
Dart declined to elaborate on what specifically Wilson said in the text messages.
“I don’t want to get into the specific details of it, but it was, obviously, a very horrific crime was committed here, and then to have the mother of the victim being subjected to taunts from the person who did this – you know, words can’t describe that. I don’t even know how you can put that into context,” he said.
Wilson had broken into the house by placing a rock inside a knit cap and throwing it through the dining room window. The cap was recovered by investigators, and was sent to the Illinois State Crime Lab where a DNA profile for Wilson was found, Alvarez said.
Meanwhile, after the murder, Wilson was spotted around 7 p.m. the same day at a 7-11 store in Willow Springs. He had contact with a police officer who had been called to the scene for a disturbance, and quickly called for a taxi, Alvarez said.
Dart would not get into specifics about the disturbance at the store or whether it involved the suspect or was unrelated.
Police removed the entire video camera system from the store as part of their investigation.
The taxi dropped Wilson off at the CTA Orange Line near Midway International Airport, and Wilson paid the taxi driver using various foreign coins that were presumably the ones stolen from the O’Laughlins’ house, Alvarez said. Investigators recovered the coins from the cab driver.
During the coming hours and days, police used cell phone technology to trace Wilson’s personal cell phone, and tracked it in tandem with Kelli’s cell phone, Alvarez said.
He was arrested Wednesday on Chicago’s South Side.
The death penalty was abolished in Illinois earlier this year, but Alvarez said if death were still an option, her office likely would have sought it for Wilson.
“This is a case that definitely would have qualified for the seeking of the death penalty. It’s a felony murder. It’s a murder that occurred during the commission of a burglary,” Alvarez said. “So yes, it’s a case that would have qualified, and I believe it’s a case where we would have sought it.”
The Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.