A convicted murderer was freed from prison Thursday, roughly halfway through his sentence for sexually assaulting and killing a 20-month-old girl in 1997.
Cayce Williams was released Dixon Correction Center Thursday, approximately halfway through the 48-year prison sentence he was handed in 2006, leaving those connected to the case horrified that the convicted killer is now a free man.
“The victim’s advocate through the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office called and told me, but I really didn’t understand,” Margaret Gretta-Morgan, Williams’ ex-girlfriend and the victim’s mother, said. “It’s something I re-live every single day.”
In 1997, Williams was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting and killing Gretta-Morgan’s 20-month-old daughter Quortney. He was eventually sentenced to 48 years in prison, but was released Thursday, the anniversary of Quortney’s death.
According to the McHenry County Sheriff's Office, Williams was released Thursday and is registered as a sexual predator with the sheriff's office, with an address in unincorporated Crystal Lake.
Officials say they have "proactively" verified all of Williams' information.
“I understand the resident’s concerns with Williams’ release into our community. I want to reassure the residents that we proactively and continually verify all of our registered sexual offender’s information to ensure that they comply with the Illinois Sexual Offender Registration Act.”, Sheriff Bill Prim said.
Attorney Sarah Toney said that a legal problem in sentencing laws, dating back to the 1990’s, are behind Williams' release from prison.
“With this case, he was sentenced in 1997, and he fell into a small number of people who were sentenced under an old ‘truth in sentencing’ statute that was enacted in 1985,” Toney said. “The Supreme Court then said the statute was ruled unconstitutional.”
The law was changed in 1998, mandating that convicted murderers serve at least 85% of their sentences, but because Williams was sentenced in 1997, he was included in a group of approximately 600 other individuals who only had to serve 50% of their sentences, Toney said.
Elgin residents were upset by Williams’ release, but Toney said there was nothing that could have been done to continue his sentence.
“Unfortunately, it’s the way the system works, and he has served his time,” she said.
The Illinois Prisoner Review Board said that it will set conditions for mandatory supervised release for Williams.
That is small comfort to Gretta-Morgan, who said that Williams’ release has reopened a lot of old wounds.
“It brings back all the memories,” she said. “This case took nine years to get through the system, and it is not something you get over overnight.”