Chicago man allegedly shot romantic rival while posing as meter inspector

SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - A Morgan Park man who dressed up as a meter inspector and then went to the home of a man and allegedly shot him to death was ordered held without bond on Tuesday, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Willie Bell didn’t know the victim, 48-year-old Timothy Lawrence. But Bell had found out that they both had been dating the same woman, which prosecutors said led to Bell taking Lawrence’s life.

Cook County Judge James Brown called Bell’s actions “cold, calculated and preplanned.”

Chicago Police had released surveillance footage of a man they now say is Bell outside the Lawrence’s residence two days before the home exploded last year. Once firefighters extinguished the flames, Lawrence’s badly burned body was discovered with a single gunshot wound to the head, Assistant State’s Attorney Bryan Grissman said.

Just days before — 0n Sept. 5, 2015 — Bell was seen on surveillance footage at a Home Depot purchasing a reflective workman’s vest and workman’s helmet, Grissman said.

A week later, Bell showed up at Lawrence’s doorstep, in the 10800 block of South Morgan, with the helmet and vest, Grissman said. But now, the helmet had the words “Meter Inspector” written on it.

Surveillance footage shows Bell walking around the house, checking on things and then being allowed inside by Lawrence, Grissman said.

Once inside, Bell allegedly shot Lawrence. When he walked out an hour later, Bell, now wearing a shirt that read “I’m that dude,” was seen with a bandaged hand walking into Lawrence’s Buick LeSabre, Grissman said.

Bell’s Facebook account has pictures of him wearing the shirt that say, “I’m that Dude,” Grissman said.

Bell, of the 11000 block of South Homewood, used Lawrence’s credit card to buy gas at a gas station a day after the murder, Grissman said.

Then, on Sept. 14, around 12:30 a.m., Bell and another person drove to Lawrence’s home in Lawrence’s Buick, Grissman said.

Bell and his cohort were seen taking gas cans from the car, Grissman said.

Bell then used a key to get inside while the other person walked in with the gas cans, Grissman said.

Minutes later, the surveillance video outside Lawrence’s home was disabled, Grissman said.

Then at 12:43 a.m., a 911 call was made indicating there was a fire at Lawrence’s home.

While firefighters were on their way, the house exploded, Grissman said. Several accelerants were found inside the house, Grissman said. One was under Lawrence’s charred body.

Cellphone records shows Bell was near Lawrence’s home on Sept. 12 and Sept. 14 of last year, Grissman said. His DNA was also found on Lawrence’s car’s driver seat and on a pair of eyeglasses inside the car, Grissman said.

Bell, 44, works as a truck driver and is a 1991 graduate of Steinmetz College Prep, an assistant public defender said.

The divorced father of one is charged with murder, concealment of a homicidal death, residential arson, home invasion and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

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