A man on probation for beating a former lover allegedly beat his current girlfriend to death after he found explicit photos of her with another man, according to court documents.
James E. McGhee, 38, is charged with murder in the death of Sidne-Nichole Buchanan, whose body he allegedly took in a suitcase and dumped in a Cook County forest preserve, the Lake County Prosecutor's Office said. She had been missing since July 27 when she was last seen with McGhee at a concert in south suburban Tinley Park.
A judge signed a no bail warrant for McGhee on Tuesday, according to records. He was arrested Wednesday, and was taken to the Lake County Jail.
Outside court Friday, defense attorney Jamise Perkins said she would prove McGhee’s innocence, and suggested an informant had provided false information against her client.
“It’s clearly a credibility issue,” Perkins said. “Mr. McGhee has always remained here, he has never tried to flee, and when he was arrested, it because he was actually around. We had already been in contact with law enforcement.”
Court documents showed that McGhee allegedly beat Buchanan to death in his Gary apartment following the concert, and tried to conceal the killing by hiding her body and cleaning his home.
Shortly after Buchanan was killed, McGhee allegedly told someone he thought he “messed up” and wanted to kill himself, documents stated.
McGhee, who had been dating Buchanan for three months, had allegedly gone through her phone after the concert and saw a sexually explicit photo of her with someone else. McGhee did so after he noticed that Buchanan received a call from an “on again, off again” boyfriend.
McGhee called the other man and told him he was Buchanan’s boyfriend, according to the documents. The other man noted that Buchanan seemed uncharacteristically “weird” and had slurred speech.
Authorities believe McGhee beat her unconscious later that night, killing her at his apartment in the 1900 block of Burr Street in Gary, the documents revealed.
When a detective initially visited McGhee’s apartment, there was a strong odor of cleaning chemicals, documents stated. McGhee also allegedly tried to replace a bloody mattress.
The morning after Buchanan’s death, McGhee called an acquaintance and had him drive with him to the forest preserve in Cook County. They parked in a clearing near a frontage road next to the Danville exit of I-80/94.
McGhee then carried the suitcase containing Buchahan’s body to a remote part of the preserve, past several parked trucks in some weeds, and left the body, documents showed.
McGhee allegedly showed his acquaintance a photo of Buchanan after the beating, according to the court documents.
“I beat her up bad,” McGhee allegedly said. “This is when she was living.”
Authorities found Buchanan’s body in a small hole along a row of trees near a clearing, documents stated. A detective noticed an odor, and found her decomposing remains on the ground.
The Cook County medical examiner’s office identified Buchanan’s body from a tattoo on her forearm.