3 Charged With Killing Man Found in Bushes

Colin Nutter's body was found Monday night by a teen walking her dog

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Prosecutors describe a shocking, cold-blooded murder by three young friends. Charlie Wojciechowski reports. (Published Friday, Jun 7, 2013)

    Three people were arrested Friday in connection with the death of a 20-year-old Highland Park man whose body was found in bushes in Wilmette Monday, officials said.

    Benjamin Schenk, 20, Philip Vatamaniuc, 17, and Michael Coffee, 17, all of Highland Park, have each been charged with first-degree murder and are being held on $5 million bond, according to the Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim.

    Man's Body Found in Wilmette Bushes

    [CHI] Man's Body Found in Wilmette Bushes
    Police roped off Colin Nutter's home on Tuesday afternoon, calling it an extension of a crime scene. Christian Farr reports. (Published Tuesday, Jun 4, 2013)

    All three were arrested Thursday after being taken into custody 24 to 48 hours after the slaying, officials said.

    According to prosecutors, the trio lured Nutter to a secluded stretch of Michigan Avenue in Highwood under the pretense of a marijuana deal.

    Wilmette Teen Describes Finding Dead Body

    [CHI] Wilmette Teen Describes Finding Dead Body
    Samantha Dela Cruz, 16, was walking her dog when it kept sniffing some bushes. That's when she made the horrible discovery. (Published Tuesday, Jun 4, 2013)

    "Schenk pulled out a firearm and shot our victim in the back of the head, killing him," Lake County State's Attorney Michael Nerheim told reporters.

    Prosecutors allege the defendants then stuffed Nutter's body into the trunk of his car and dumped it near the Edens Expressway, where it was discovered by a teen walking her dog on Monday night. The following day, they stole a vehicle belonging to one of Nutter's relatives and drove that car and Nutter's car into Chicago. A police surveillance camera recorded them dumping Nutter's car near West Madison Street and South Pulaski Road, officials said.

    "We haven't quite established a motive," said Chief George Filenko with the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force. "We're still gathering information as we speak right now."

    At the time of the slaying, Schenk was already out of custody on a $30,000 bond from a December aggravated assault and deadly weapon charge in connection with an attempted auto theft. Coffee pleaded guilty last October to mob activity and activity battery for an incident on a bike path.

    Authorities said their investigation is ongoing. Another court appearance for Schenk, Coffee and Vatamaniuc was scheduled for July 1.