Nearly eight years after 12-year-old Jahmeshia Conner was found raped and strangled in an alley in Chicago’s West Englewood neighborhood, a man who once worked at her neighborhood church has been convicted in her slaying.
Rene Valentin-Matos, 51, pleaded guilty to murder and predatory criminal sexual assault at the Leighton Criminal Court Building, Cook County court records show.
Judge William Lacy sentenced him to a combined 26 years in prison. Under Illinois sentencing statutes, Valentin-Matos must serve the entire 20-year term for murder and at least 85 percent of the six-year sentence for the assault.
Jahmeshia, a cheerleader at O’Toole Elementary School, had been missing for nearly two weeks in November 2009 before her body was found. Police suspected the fifth-grader’s killer was familiar with the community where she lived with her mother and siblings.
But investigators had few leads, and the case went cold for years -- until early 2014 when Chicago police learned from the state crime lab of a DNA match between the 2011 rape of a Pilsen woman and evidence collected from underneath Jahmeshia’s fingernails.
Detectives re-interviewed the 2011 victim, who knew Valentin-Matos from the neighborhood and said he raped her after she had been evicted from her home and asked to spend the night at his residence.
Since Valentin-Matos had no felony convictions in his background, though, investigators had no DNA of his to try to match.
Authorities then tracked Valentin-Matos down to Cold Spring, Minn., a small town in the central part of the state, but local officers there spent about two weeks on the lookout for him after tips on his workplace and a home address didn't pan out, police said at the time. He was arrested after a patrol officer happened to spot him shoveling snow in front of the bakery where he worked.
The owner of the Cold Spring Bakery told the Tribune that Valentin-Matos was a model employee who worked for her part time for about a year doing odd jobs.
At the time of Jahmeshia's slaying, Valentin-Matos was living above a church that Jahmeshia’s family attended, police said. He also did maintenance work for the church.
Jahmeshia was last seen Nov. 15, 2009, after leaving her aunt's house to board a CTA bus at 63rd Street and Racine Avenue and ride home. Her mother did not report her missing until the next day, telling reporters at the time that because of a miscommunication she had assumed her daughter had stayed at her aunt's house and then gone to school.
Her family had criticized police at the time for Jahmeshia's being listed as an “endangered runaway” and failing to send out a missing-person alert to the news media. Police said that detectives had quickly begun their investigation but acknowledged that word of her disappearance had not been announced to the media. Police blamed a computer glitch but later altered their procedures.
Valentin-Matos still faces charges in the 2011 rape of the Pilsen woman.
Man given 26 years in prison for rape, murder of 12-year-old Englewood girl Megan Crepeau Chicago Tribune October 27 2017
Mark Campbell was handed a life sentence by Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall, after being found guilty by a jury of raping a young boy on two occasions.
The 12-member jury returned unanimous verdicts on two counts of rape. It found that Campbell first engaged in sexual penetration of the boy during the month of September 2011, when he was six years old. It also found that he raped the child on July 10, 2013, when he was eight years of age.
When asked whether he had anything to say before being sentenced, the unrepresented Campbell complained that he did not get a fair trial. According to him, “I had a feeling, I know from the start that everything would go opposite.”
The convict lamented not having a lawyer, adding, “Is only me word alone I had.”
“I can’t seh I guilty fuh something I know me ain’t do,” he declared.
It was at this point that Justice Morris-Ramlall cautioned the man that he should be addressing the court on any plea in mitigation he may want to raise. “Don’t waste the opportunity, the jury has already found you guilty,” she admonished him.
In response Campbell, in a barely audible tone, muttered, “Please be lenient on me is all I ask, you honour.”
In stern reprimand, the judge informed the convict, that the court would not be lenient with him.
Noting that the jury had found him guilty on both counts of rape, Justice Morris-Ramlall said that having been aware of the circumstances under which the assaults occurred, it was disturbing.
The judge explained to the convict that he violated the child in the worse way possible, taking advantage of a position of trust when the child was left with him, as the mother worked at nights to financially support her family.
“You did not show mercy to him, but you are asking this court to be merciful with you? It will not,” Justice Morris-Ramlall asserted.
The judge said she observed during the trial, that as Campbell cross-examined the child, he hadn’t an iota of love or compassion.
“The court must send a strong message to you, and to persons who may be contemplating acts, such as you have committed, that it will not be condoned” Justice Morris-Ramlall said.
She thereafter imposed a life sentence on Campbell, ordering that he spends a minimum of 30 years, before being eligible for parole.
A Bedford man has been sentenced to eight years in prison for sexually assaulting a young girl in the early 2000s.
Alan Garcia-Morgan, 54, of Thurlestone Close, was sentenced October 26, at St Albans Crown Court after being found guilty of four counts of indecently assaulting a girl under 14 during a trial in August.
Garcia-Morgan sexually abused the girl on a number of occasions in Bedfordshire throughout 2000 and 2001.
In 2015 the victim decided to contact Bedfordshire Police to report the abuse and an investigation was launched – that subsequently led to Garcia-Morgan being arrested and charged.
Investigation Officer, Tony Arrow, from the child and vulnerable adult abuse unit, said: “We will not tolerate child sexual abuse and we’re determined to bring people like Garcia-Morgan, who choose to abuse children in the worst possible way, to justice. “We’re pleased that the victim found the strength to come forward and report his abhorrent actions and although this can never make up for being abused, we hope that she now feels that justice has been done.
“The sentence shows that sexual abuse is taken seriously, no matter how much time has passed, and I hope that it encourages others to come forward and speak out about abuse.”
To report child sexual abuse, contact police on 101. You can also contact the NSPCC for advice and support on 0808 800 5000.
MATTOON, Ill. (WCIA) -- Police are searching for more victims after a well-known basketball coach is arrested for sexually assaulting a teenager.
53-year old Barry Wolfe was taken into custody. He's the coach of Central Illinois' AAU team Storm.
A former player accused him of orally and digitally assaulting her.
"There was a sexual act of penetration."
That's what a former player of Wolfe's is saying.
"It's a very disturbing crime and it's one we hopped on right away. We want to make sure we follow this up and provide justice and make sure it stops."
One parent says she saw it coming. She asked to remain anonymous. She first heard rumors two seasons ago.
"No one thought anything of it. Barry had a good thing going. Why would he screw that up?"
But, she said the allegations kept coming. Her final straw was after an away-game. She says older girls warned her daughter.
"If he invites you to his hotel room, don't go alone. Bring one of us with you."
Now, she's concerned.
"He manipulated girls. He used his power to tell them it was the only way they could play college basketball."
"He's in a position of trust. He violated that position of trust and he violated the trust."
Since one girl has come forward, police believe there might be other victims.
"Obviously, we hope we find no more victims, but I anticipate we'll probably find a few more."
Police say they'll be going through his rosters and calling players asking them to come forward if they know anything.
Original: 11:15 am, 10/27/17, Friday
MATTOON, Ill. (WCIA) -- A Martinsville man faces 13 counts for sex crimes against a minor. 53-year old Barry Wolfe was arrested.
He charged with 8 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and 5 counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault. He's being held on $500,000 bond.
Abilene police arrested a 38-year-old man on suspicion he sexually abused a girl under age 14 for a period of at least four years, according to an arrest report.
Timothy Michael Unzueta was arrested in connection with an investigation into continuous sexual abuse of a child under 14 and possession of child pornography, the arrest report states.
A 14-year-old girl made an outcry that Unzueta had been sexually abusing her since she was 10, according to the arrest report. Investigators then interviewed Unzueta and he allegedly corroborated a "large portion" of the girl's allegations.
Unzueta remains in the Taylor County Jail in lieu of bonds totaling $50,000, according to jail records.
Abilene man arrested in connection with sexual abuse of child Brooke Crum, Abilene Reporter-News Oct. 27, 2017