Skip to comments.I-57 killer, fetus thief spared
Posted on 01/12/2003 8:33:48 AM PST by chance33_98
I-57 killer, fetus thief spared
By Gregory Tejeda From the National Desk
CHICAGO, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Henry Brisbon is known in criminal justice circles as the "I-57 Killer" for a series of slayings in 1973 along Interstate 57 south of Chicago, including ordering one engaged couple to "kiss their last kiss" while he shot them to death alongside the highway.
Jacqueline Williams is a woman so desperate to have people think she gave birth to a baby that she, her boyfriend and a friend killed a pregnant woman and cut her full-term fetus from her womb.
Both Brisbon and Williams are the most prominent of Illinois' death-row inmates who no longer have to worry about someday being strapped to a gurney and receiving a court-ordered lethal injection.
They, along with their 155 colleagues on Illinois' death rows, will be moved this weekend to the general prison population -- although officials admit Brisbon has been enough of a security risk in the past they will still keep an extra watch over him.
Gov. George Ryan's Saturday clemency order that cleared out death row in Illinois altered both of their sentences to life prison terms without parole.
What's odd is that Brisbon was not on death row for the I-57 slayings, which occurred during the period from 1972-76 when the United States had no death penalty.
He was serving a 1,000-3,000-year sentence at the Stateville Correctional Center near Joliet when he got into a fight and killed fellow inmate Richard "Hippie" Morgan. For that, he was sentenced to death.
Brisbon's prison problems give him notoriety in the Illinois system. In one early-1980s fight at the Pontiac Correctional Center, Brisbon stabbed another prominent inmate -- John Gacy, the man convicted of more murders than anyone else in U.S. history. Gacy was executed in 1994.
Williams was one of four women on Illinois' death row. She was sentenced to death for the particularly brutal nature of her crime. One of her co-defendants, Fedell Caffey, also got death. Ryan's order changes his sentence as well to natural life.
Other noteworthy cases in Illinois involve Leonard Kidd, who caused a 1980 fire in Chicago that killed 10 children; Anthony Enis, who raped a nurse in 1987 and killed her four months later to keep her from testifying against him, and Jeffrey Rissley, who kidnapped and killed a 6-year-old girl in 1991, ultimately disposing of her body in Michigan.
But Ryan said the case that gave him the most pause involved Daniel Edwards, who is on death row for the abduction-murder of Steve Small. Small, the publisher of the Kankakee Journal, was lured to the garage of a home he was renovating, stuffed into the trunk of a car and then buried alive. He died before police could find him.
The crime took place in Ryan's hometown of Kankakee, Ill. Small was a neighbor who used to baby-sit Ryan's children and Ryan also knew the Edwards family.
"Dan Edwards is guilty. I know that," Ryan said, but added that he is so convinced the Illinois death penalty system is a mess, he felt he had no choice but to reduce the sentence.
The decision is not a popular one in the Ryan household, the governor admits.
"My wife, Lura Lynn, was angry and disappointed at my decision, like many of the families of other victims will be," he said.
There's GOT to be more to this loony amnesty than meets the eye.
Ryan's gone totally off the Reservation with this.
Who can say whether he's slipped a mental gear, been told he has a short time to live and gotten some goofy sort of Who Shot John religion or found a way to grease his retirement?
As they say today (often for lack of an adequate vocabulary)...
His obscene contempt for the decent people of his state is showing.
Sure. Politicians never want to irritate familes newspaper publishers.
Ryan has got to be THE WORST Republican Gov. Illinois has EVER had!
This 'amnesty' was a sucker punch body blow to the families of the victims.
Frankly, given the depth of emotion and number of people involved it'll be a miracle if at least ONE of the 're-victimized' isn't thinking this way right now.
I'd steer WAY clear of Ryan if I saw him in person...
'Collateral Damage' and all that.
Ryan's actions have layed the groundwork for Blago to go even further. No, as bad as Ryan is, I think Blago will be TEN TIME WORSE!
Maybe the worst Illinois governor, period.
Blago will likely manage to do worse things than Ryan, but only because he won't have a Republican legislature to hold him in check. Were George Ryan somehow to receive a second term (but with all other office-holders as they will be) I don't think the results would be any worse than under Blago's term.
Notorious killers get huge break
When Gov. Ryan issued a blanket commutation to every man and woman on Death Row in Illinois, he knowingly spared the lives of some of the most vicious killers in the state's 185-year history.
The governor acknowledged as much Saturday but said that fundamental flaws in the system necessitated his actions.
Here are some of the most infamous killers saved by Ryan:
To make the point that he has been personally touched by the horror of murder, Ryan on Saturday described the murder of an old family friend, Kankakee businessman Stephen B. Small, in 1987, in a kidnapping plot.
Danny Edwards, who at the time was a small-time drug dealer and electrician in Kankakee, was found guilty of burying Small alive in a wooden box.
Edwards made an air hole in the box and apparently thought Small could survive for some time while he--Edwards--attempted to extort a $1 million ransom from Small's wealthy family. But Small died within four hours of being buried.
While conceding that the evidence against his client was "overwhelming"--Edwards was seen building the box, and his fingerprints were found inside--defense attorney Thomas Allen expressed surprise at the quick guilty verdict, calling the jury "the coldest I've ever seen."
Brisbon and three other men decided to rob somebody. When they couldn't find the right pedestrian to rob in Kankakee, they drove toward Chicago on Interstate 57. While riding along, they came up with the idea of robbing motorists by staging phony accidents.
One of the killers tricked motorists out of their cars by asking them to inspect minor collision damage, then led them to Brisbon, who brandished the shotgun and robbed and shot them.
Betty Lou Harmon, 29, of suburban Darien, was forced to undress at gunpoint. She ran away, but was caught by Sanders, who led her to Brisbon, who fatally shot her in a field.
An engaged North Side couple, Dorothy Cerny and James Schmidt, both 25, who were returning from a family gathering in Matteson, also were shot to death by Brisbon after being stripped of their valuables.
Brisbon told the couple to "kiss your last kiss" before firing shotgun blasts into their backs as they lay on the side of the highway.
But Brisbon was not on Death Row for the I-57 murders. He was put there because he used a sharpened spoon to kill another inmate while in prison.
Fedell Caffey & Jacqueline Williams
Caffey and Williams decided they wanted a baby. So they stabbed to death a pregnant woman, Debra Evans, in her Addison apartment and cut her nearly full-term fetus from her body, according to prosecutors.
To eliminate witnesses, they also murdered Evans' 10-year-old daughter, Samantha, and 8-year-old son, Joshua.
Another child, Jordan, was spared in the 1995 murder--children under the age of 2 aren't likely to be good witnesses. And the newborn boy also survived.
Fortunately, Jordan's grandfather, Sam Evans, says Jordan has no recollection today of the horrors he witnessed.
In an eerily similar case, little 2-month-old Guadalupe Soto and her toddler brother Santiago had both parents ripped away by vicious killers who wanted to steal a baby in 1998.
One of them was Solache, who agreed to help kill Jacinta and Mariano Soto and snatch the baby so Adriana Mejia could pretend it was hers. Mejia targeted the Bucktown family after seeing Jacinta with the children at a local health clinic. She followed them home on a bus to see where they lived.
Early the next morning, Solache, Mejia and Arturo DeLeon-Reyes surprised the family, stabbing the parents more than 60 times as the sleepy toddler looked on. Mejia and DeLeon-Reyes got life in prison.
At JB's Pub in Elgin in 2001, Casteel was booted out for harassing female customers and employees. Roaring drunk and enraged, he shot straight home, shaved his hair into a mohawk and changed into military fatigues, armed himself with several guns and returned to the bar.
Screaming, "I am a natural born killer," he shot bartender Jeffrey Weides and customer Richard Bartlett to death and wounded 16 others before being wrestled to the ground by bar patrons and employees.
At his trial, Casteel almost dared a Kane County jury to impose the death penalty.
"I'm not someone who asks for mercy or pity for my actions," he said during a stunning half hour of testimony. "I have absolutely no fear of anything anyone can put upon me."
In 1991, 6-year-old Shenosha Richard was playing in her South Side Chicago neighborhood when she was approached by Pulliam and Pulliam's boyfriend, Dwight Jordan. She went with them after they purchased her a bag of chips and promised to take her to a movie.
At Pulliam's apartment, over several hours, Pulliam and Jordan sexually assaulted the girl with a shoe polish applicator and a hammer, and then used the hammer to pulverize her skull, according to prosecutors. Pulliam also beat and strangled the girl.
Attorneys for Pulliam said she was drug-crazed at the time, but a court psychologist described her as "a female John Gacy" who got sexual satisfaction from hurting someone weaker than she.
This makes the Gov an accessory to murder before the fact.
In a better world he would eventually be brought up on charges.
I read this story today and got sick to my stomach...How can someone do something like this to a baby. I am wondering however. I did a search on Dwight Jordan, the man that was arrested and convicted with Latasha Pulliam. Did he die in Jail..I can’t find anything about him on the IDOC website. Just asking.