A trial is set for early next year for a central Illinois man charged in the 1985 death of a teenage girl who left her suburban Chicago home to buy candy.
The Daily Herald reports that Michael Jones, of Champaign, is scheduled for trial in DuPage County on Jan. 23.
Prosecutors say the 63-year-old assaulted and killed 15-year-old Kristy Wesselman near her home near Glen Ellyn. Her body was found in a field she used as a shortcut to a grocery store.
The case went cold years ago. Jones was charged in Sept. 2015 after being linked to the case through a DNA sample provided after he pleaded guilty to aggravated domestic battery in Champaign County.
He was charged with two counts of murder and one count of aggravated criminal sexual assault, according to the DuPage County sheriff’s office. He has pleaded not guilty.
Wesselman was walking home from the Jewel near Butterfield Road and Route 53 in unincorporated Glen Ellyn on July 21, 1985, when she was murdered, according to police. She was last seen walking on a well-traveled path back toward her home.
The teen's mother reported her missing when she never made it back home, and her body was found hours later by sheriff's detectives in a field near the path where she was last seen walking.
Wesselman was a student and class president who was well known by her neighbors, some of whom still live on the same street. They say they remember her walking her dog up and down the block every day.
"It was really a surprise to everybody," said neighbor Sandy Menger, who was at a family reunion in Ohio when he first heard news of the murder. "It was just devastating to everybody."
Prosecutors said Jones’ DNA matched the rape kit performed on Wesselman’s body in 1985.
Authorities said he had a prior rape and kidnapping conviction in 1977, when prosecutors said he knocked a 27-year-old woman off a bike before taking her to his parents' Schiller Park home. There, prosecutors said he attacked the girl in the home’s basement.
Jones served less than seven years of a 20-year sentence for the crime, and it was when he was on parole that he killed Wesselman, according to prosecutors.