True Crime by Chris Bunton
On April 13, 2020, Thomas Johnson, 69, and his wife Leslie Jones, 67, were discovered dead in their home in Oak Park, Illinois.
Thomas was stabbed 17 times and found lying in an up stairs bed. While Leslie was stabbed 34 times and found on the stairs.
Family members had not heard from the couple for about four days. So they asked the couple’s Godson to check on them. He is the one who found them and called the police.
He also found the family dog, who was stabbed but not killed.
This case remains unsolved to this day. ( October 14, 2023)
Theories have arisen that the details of the case and who the victims were leans toward the possibility that the killer knew the victims and held a grudge or it was a hit to send a message.
Both attorneys graduated from Harvard Law and were heavily involved in the community and social reforms. They also did a lot of work through their law practice that could have brought anger.
NBC 5 in Chicago spoke to veteran homicide detective Richard Schak who retired after 30 years of working Chicago homicide.
“I don’t think this was random because of the overkill,” said Schak. “I think somebody planned it and had something against them. Mr. Johnson was a late-night guy. People would know that by casing the place and determine when people would be in bed.”
“I’m looking for enemies,” said Schak. “I’m looking for anybody that would want to do that much damage to somebody.”
Autopsy reports indicate there was no sign of forced entry, stating, “the front door to the residence closed but unlocked” and “did not appear to be ransacked.” The only item noted was Johnson’s wallet, which was found on “the bedroom floor with its contents scattered.”
“You could say the person was looking for something specific and found it or didn’t or they were trying to make it look like a robbery or home invasion that it wasn’t,” Schak said.”
The investigation continues. If you have any information, please contact the Oak Park Police.
I traveled to Schaumburg, Illinois with my wife who was attending a conference.
While she was at the conference during the day I would go check out various sites.
I decided to go to Oak Park to see Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and check out Ernest Hemmingway’s boyhood home.
I also decided to checkout any crimes in Oak Park. Which is something I do when I travel. I call it Crime Travel. Checking out infamous true crime sites near the location I’m traveling in.
We were in the hotel room and I was researching crimes in the area when I came across this murder, and mentioned it to my wife.
She said, ” Yeah I knew them.”
“What?” I said.
“Yes, they were wonderful people. They did work for us helping people.”
So, that led me to decide to write on them.
As I traveled to Oak Park, I drove through the very wealthy neighborhoods looking for the 500 block of Fair Oaks.
I parked the car and walked down the beautiful street lined with great architecture.
I always feel self conscious in these situations. I don’t want to disturb people or seem like some sort of creeper. But, I think that going to these places sometimes helps give more insight into what happened. This was not a neighborhood where crimes like this occurred very often.
The house where the murders had taken place was sold and purchased by another family.
After finding the house, I walked past it and then down the alley. As I went down the alley I recognized it. I had been in the alley before.
Years in the past I had come to Oak Park to check out Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.
Doing research showed me that the house of Edwin Cheney which Wright had built was on a road in this neighborhood. So I checked out the house and went down this alley.
For me, the house of Cheney was interesting not just because it was built by Wright. But, because of the scandals and murder that was associated with it.
The interesting thing was that Edwin Cheney’s wife had an affair with Frank Lloyd Wright. It destroyed their families and was all the gossip and even front page news back in the day.
Wright and Ms. Cheney started living together in Europe and Wright even built his Taliesin home in Wisconsin as a place for them, and to have his architecture practice.
It was at the home in Wisconsin where her and her children were brutally murdered.
The Oak Park home Wright built for her and her husband is right across the alley from the location of this current murder.
There is of course no connection to the two crimes.
But for me, in my life, I often run into odd connections and links that speak to me in regards to these true crime cases. I cannot explain it and do not know why.
But, it”s strange that I was in the Chicago area with time to kill.
It’s strange that I like Frank Lloyd Wright
It’s strange that I’m interested in True Crime and write about it.
It’s strange that I was going to visit Oak Park
It’s strange that my wife knew the victims.
It’s strange that I had been there before.
It’s strange that I had written about a crime in history connected to the same location.
These sorts of connections happen often, especially in relation to the True Crime work I do. It’s like I’m being led. Or maybe the victims want their story told. Or maybe God wants justice and to show us how brutal we can be.
Maybe it’s all of it. And more.
Again, if you have any information on this case contact the Oak Park Police.
Sources and further reading:
Read More True Crime at The Yard: Crime Blog
Bio: Chris Bunton is a writer, poet and blogger from Southern Illinois. He has published in several magazines, and has written a poetry eBook called “Against the Man” and an Addiction Recovery eBook called “Made Free: Overcoming Addiction“ His newest book is called “The Future is Coming” and is a collection of dystopian short stories.
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