Suspect Charged With O'Laughlin Murder Has Long Criminal History
John L. Wilson is currently being held without bond in Cook County Jail.
The man charged with first degree felony murder and residential burglary in the stabbing death of 14-year-old Kelli O'Laughlin has a criminal history dating back to 1991.
"Many of the charges involved violence," said Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy, who is the chairman of the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force.
John L. Wilson, 38, of the 7900 Block of South Lafayette in Chicago was out of prison less than a year before he broke into the O'Laughlin home. In the past 20 years, Wilson has only spent three of them outside the walls of a prison.
In 1991, Wilson was arrested for unauthorized possession of a controlled substance and for receiving, having possession of and selling a stolen vehicle. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
In 1993, Wilson was arrested for unauthorized possession of a controlled substance and aggravated vehicular hijacking. He was sentenced to one year in prison.
In 2001, Wilson was arrested for aggravated battery of a fireman. He was sentenced to two years in prision.
In 2002, Wilson was arrested for robbing a school/place of worship and unlawful vehicular invasion. He was sentenced in 2003 to 11 years in prison.
"Based on a background like this that he had, he would be looking at more jail time if in fact he was arrested just for [the O'Laughlin] burglary [alone]. Particularly, if he's on parole, there's going to be a parole violation. That would be in addition to the charges," said Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez during a press conference Friday announcing the charges against Wilson.
Alvarez said that Wilson was out on parole despite his criminal history, because the laws of the state of Illinois say that an offender is entitled to parole.
"The last conviction that he obtained ... This particular charge, the unlawful vehicular invasion is a charge where he doesn't have to do 80 percent of his time, only 50 percent of the time. So we received that sentence in 2003. He was eligible for parole," said Alavarez.
Alvarez said this case would have qualified for the the death penalty, and she believed that the State's Attorney's office would have sought it.
Disturbing details of the crime
Wilson's older brother told the Chicago Tribune that Wilson has psychiatric problems and needs to be assessed.
According to the report, when Wilson's brother heard about the crime, he expressed sympathy for Kelli’s family saying, “I want justice because that’s really horrific ... I’m so sorry for Kelli’s family. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. My God please have mercy on Kelli and on my little brother’s soul.”
The word horrific has been used to describe the crime many times over the course of the past few days, especially when investigators outlined the events that occurred on the day of the Lyons Township freshman's murder.
According to investigators, 14-year-old Kelli O'Laughlin came home from school and was confronted by Wilson, who stabbed her multiple times in the back, neck and chest. He "then dragged her body from the family room to the kitchen," according to a report released by Indian Head Park Police, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said investigators are unaware of any contact between Wilson and the O'Laughlin family prior to the day of the burglary, but said Wilson took Kelli's cell phone with him when he fled and texted Kelli's mother about what he did.
"A horrific crime was committed here, and then to have the mother of the victim being subjected to taunts from the person who did this. I, of course, can't describe that. I don't even know how you could put that into context," said Dart.
Dart said the sense of loss and nature of the crime is what drove investigators so relentlessly to find the person responsible.
"Even the most experienced investigators and prosecutors have been brought to tears by the very facts of this case and the killing nature of this case. All of us who have children, who have teenagers, are haunted by the sickness of this crime and the total disregard for life displayed by this defendent," said Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.
Investigators with the United States Secret Service were able to track Kelli's cell phone, as well as Wilson's personal cell phone, which helped police apprehend him.
Wilson was taken into custody on Nov. 2, six days after the murder.
Members of the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force said they followed hundreds of leads in order to find the person responsible for Kelli O'Laughlin's murder. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said that although they believe Wilson acted alone, police will continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding this case.