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New Suspects Charged In 2 High-Profile Lake County Murder Cases

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Murder victims Laura Hobbs (left); Krystal Tobas (CBS)

Murder victims Laura Hobbs (left); Krystal Tobas (CBS)

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WAUKEGAN, Ill. (CBS) — Prosecutors in Lake County have lodged charges in two high-profile murder cases, in which other men have been charged or convicted.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports, Jerry Hobbs was jailed for five years awaiting trial, having been charged in the murders of his 8-year-old daughter, Laura Hobbs, and her friend, Krystal Tobias, 9. Their bodies were found in 2005 in the Beulah Park Forest Preserve in Zion.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

Now, a onetime friend of the Tobias family, Jorge Torrez, is charged. Torrez, 23, was charged Tuesday by the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office.

Torrez is already serving five life terms for attacking women in Virginia. He was also charged last year with the 2009 murder of Amanda Snell, a female naval officer who was kidnapped, raped and left for dead.

Meanwhile, Hobbs has sued Lake County, saying authorities coerced him to confess to the murders.

The lawsuit says for 20 hours “Hobbs had been beaten and threatened with further violence,” even after he asked for a lawyer.

“I was a broke man,” he said in 2010. “I just gave them what they wanted.”

Meanwhile, Hezekiah Whitfield, 42, of Chicago now stands charged with the 1994 bludgeoning death of Waukegan appliance store owner Frederick Reckling. Whitfield was arrested Tuesday morning and his bail was set at $3 million. His arraignment has been scheduled for Thursday.

DNA from blood at the crime scene and in the victim’s car matched Whitfield, said Steve Scheller, chief of the criminal division in the Lake County state’s attorney’s office.

James Edwards, who was convicted in Reckling’s death in 1996 after he confessed, remains in an Illinois prison on another conviction.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

“Mr. Edwards is not getting out of prison,” Scheller said.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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