Murder Charges Filed in Chicago-Area Girl's 1991 Death

A 58-year-old man was charged Thursday with murder and kidnapping in the 1991 killing of a 14-year-old suburban Chicago girl, prosecutors said.

More than two years ago, five men reached a $40 million settlement with Illinois State Police after they were cleared of all charges in the death of Dixmoor teenager Cateresa Matthews. The men, known as the "Dixmoor Five," spent a decade or more in prison before DNA evidence pointed to Willie Randolph, not them, in Cateresa's killing.

Randolph appeared in bond court Thursday afternoon on charges of murder, kidnapping and predatory criminal sexual assault. Randolph is already serving a three-year sentence for drug possession in an Illinois state prison. He is a registered sex offender.

The investigation into Cateresa's killing started anew in 2014, following DNA testing in 2011 that failed to link any of the five imprisoned men to the crime, but instead indicated Randolph was involved. Dixmoor police asked the Cook County sheriff for help, and Cook County prosecutors' cold case unit also assisted.

Authorities say the case against Randolph is stronger than before.

"Because of the difficulties of dealing with cases that followed, cases where people have been convicted and went to jail, you have to be diligent and build a really strong case," said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. 

Cateresa disappeared in November 1991. Three weeks later, her body was found in a field near Interstate 57. She had been raped and had a single gunshot wound in her mouth.

Her mother, Theresa Matthews, said learning that the five men weren't responsible for her daughter's death "was really stressful."

Robert Taylor, James Harden and Jonathan Barr were freed in 2011 after 19 years in prison, while Shainne Sharp and Robert Veal were released after 10 years behind bars.

Matthews said she will attend all court hearings going forward.

"I'm Cateresa's voice," she said. "I have to speak for her. I want justice for her. It's up to me to speak for my baby."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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