Officers Who Broke McClendon Case Honored

CLTV host Gerard McClendon's parents found shot in forest preserve last year

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCChicago.com
    Capt. Ezekiel Hinojosa and Sgt. David Carter were named "officers of the year" by Lake County, Indiana law enforcement for their tireless work in the hours a CLTV host's parents were found dead.

    Two experienced detectives on Friday were named "officers of the year" by Lake County, Indiana law enforcement for their tireless work in the hours after a brutal home invasion and robbery left two senior citizens dead.

    Hammond police Sgt. David Carter and Capt. Ezekiel Hinojosa were assigned to the high-profile investigation last October when the bodies of Ruby and Milton McClendon -- the parents of CLTV host Gerard McClendon -- were found in a Cook County Forest Preserve.

    Hammond police chief Brian Miller said he knew the kinds of pressure a "heater case" could bring.

    "It’s more taxing. You get more calls just on the basis of that, either from media or people trying to give tips," said Miller. "They know there is more pressure on them because of that."

    The detectives are currently under a court’s gag order and are unable to speak directly about the case, but they were able to talk about what it’s like to bring alleged killers to justice.

    "Its an exceptional feeling," said Hinojosa, a 31-year veteran of the Hammond Police Force. "After all the hard work you put into a case. We always try to find resolution for the families and the victims."

    Within days of the deaths, two people were in custody. The McClendons' stolen Cadillac was abandoned on the Dan Ryan expressway, and witness descriptions of the two men walking away from the car led Hinojosa and Carter to 18-year-old Gregory Brooks and 17-year-old Rio Thompson.

    "These guys worked for 33 straight hours, Miller said. "They worked leads, were able to follow up on those leads and within three days we had the suspects in custody. You can’t ask for better than that."

    Speaking in Hobart, Ind., on Friday, Carter chose his words carefully but said he is proud of the work his team did.

    "Anytime you get recognized for you hard work, it feels rewarding," he said.

    Jury selection for Brooks will begin April 19 . If convicted on all counts of burglary and murder, Brooks and Thompson face up to 130 years in prison.