SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE / AP - When the accused killer of her daughter stepped into a Markham courtroom Thursday, Theresa Matthews wept.
Willie Randolph, 58, was ordered held without bond on a murder charge in the 1991 rape and fatal shooting of 14-year-old Cateresa Matthews in south suburban Dixmoor.
The former police chief of the village, Ron Burge, put a hand on Theresa Matthews’ shoulder as she sobbed, and Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Tom Biesty laid out the case against Randolph, a convicted rapist and career criminal.
Also watching in the gallery was Robert Taylor, one of the five teenagers originally convicted of the notorious crime. The “Dixmoor Five” all served prison terms but the last three were freed in 2011 when DNA linked Randolph to Cateresa’s rape.
The five later obtained a $40 million legal settlement from the state police and Dixmoor police, which botched the original investigation along with Cook County prosecutors.
Burge, while he was top cop in Dixmoor, called Sheriff Tom Dart in 2014 to ask him to reinvestigate the murder of Cateresa, whom he knew as a family friend.
The new probe led to the charge Thursday against Randolph. As Randolph was escorted from court in blue jail clothes, he seemed to stare down Matthews, who watched him leave.
“I want justice to be served,” she told reporters afterward.
“It’s been two decades and a half, and she hasn’t rested in peace,” she said of Cateresa.
Taylor remains bitter at serving 20 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit.
“All my dreams, that’s over with,” he said. “If they had done the right thing the first time, they wouldn’t have this problem.”
Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez on Thursday expressed sympathy for Theresa Matthews and apologized to the Dixmoor Five and their families.
"Our system did not protect them; in fact it victimized them in a way that can never possibly be repaired," she said in a written statement.
She added that "many important reforms" are now in place "to ensure that no person is wrongfully convicted."
Biesty also told Judge Tommy Brewer that Randolph kidnapped Cateresa at a bus stop, raped her and shot her in the mouth as she begged for her life in a field near Interstate 57.
Randolph, who was in prison for drug possession earlier this year, boasted to other inmates that he killed her with a .25-caliber pistol, Biesty said. A bullet casing of the same caliber was found under her half-naked body.
Randolph told inmates he was worried about a woman he raped in 1977 when she was just 13 years old. He vowed to kill her when he got out of prison to shut her up, Biesty said.
He was worried she would tell her story to authorities, and she did, Biesty said. She said Randolph raped her in a field near I-57. Later, she gave birth to his child when she was 14, she told investigators.