Sunday, October 26, 2008

Killing Spree Suspect Has a Long Criminal History

Nicholas T. Sheley is a 28 year old Sterling, Illinois man accused of a two-state murder spree in late June that left eight people dead.

In Knox County, Sheley is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder, 2 counts of aggravated kidnapping, 2 counts of aggravated vehicular hijacking and 1 count of armed robbery — all Class X felonies punishable by 6 to 30 years in prison; 1 count of robbery, a Class 1 felony; and 1 count of possession of a stolen vehicle, a Class 2 felony in connection to the bludgeoning death of Ronald Randell, 65, of Galesburg. If convicted, Sheley will face the death penalty. He is being held at the Knox County jail, in Galesburg, IL, on a $10 million dollar bond.

While awaiting the results of a court ordered fitness hearing, this seemed like a good time to look over Sheley's prior criminal history. I'm also working on a time line of the killing spree and the events leading up to it, as well as the current status of each of the cases. I will post the time line in the next couple days. (There is a lot of information out there!)

According to court records:

- In 1997, Sheley was charged with possession of a firearm, a felony, and carrying a gun with an expired firearm owner's identification card, possession of marijuana, possession of alcohol as a minor, and possession of drug paraphernalia, all misdemeanors.

He pleaded guilty to all charges, and received 1 year in jail and 30 months probation.

- In 1999, Sheley pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, resisting a peace officer, and consumption of alcohol by a minor, all misdemeanors.

He served 90 days in jail.

- In 2000, Sheley was charged with four counts of armed robbery, one count of aggravated robbery, and domestic battery, all felonies.

He pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and was sentenced to 6 years in prison.
The four armed robbery charges and the domestic battery charge were dismissed.

- In 2003, Sheley was charged with aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, aggravated battery in a public place and escape from a peace officer, all felonies, and criminal damage to government property and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors.

He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and had to pay $233 in restitution. All other charges were dismissed.

- In 2005, Sheley was charged with unlawful restraint and domestic battery, both misdemeanors; they were dropped because no probable cause was found.

That April, he pleaded guilty to domestic battery and resisting a peace officer, both misdemeanors, and served 30 days in jail.

- In 2006, he was charged with armed home invasion, aggravated battery with a weapon and armed robbery, all felonies, and all in connection with the drug-related murder of Douglas Keefer, 46, of Rock Falls, who was found beaten to death in the backyard of his home the morning of Nov. 26.

The charges were dismissed when a key witness could not be found.

- In 2007, he was charged with home invasion, aggravated discharge of a firearm and possession of a firearm in connection with an armed robbery, all felonies.

He was released on a $250,000 recognizance bond in January.

So...apparently Mr. Sheley not only has an extensive criminal history, he was also out on bond for some pretty serious felonies when this alleged rampage started on June 14.

Police in Sterling came to know Sheley well as his crimes progressed from marijuana possession to domestic battery, then to resisting a peace officer and aggravated battery.

But nothing in his history suggested he was capable of violence of which he is now suspected: killing eight people in two states, from a toddler to a 93-year-old, all by the personalized and brutal method police describe as "blunt force trauma."

"Nothing would have made us suspect that something like this would happen," said Ron Potthoff, chief of police in Sheley's hometown of Sterling, a city of 15,000 about 100 miles west of Chicago. "But...he was becoming more and more noticeable to the officers."





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  1. Katfish,

    Thanks for the coverage of this case. This creature needs to be out of society for the rest of his life.

  2. ritanita,

    Thanks for your input.I was glad to see your name added as a contributor at T&T. I have enjoyed your entries and look forward to more!

    I have found reports that Sheley actually has a criminal history that spans nearly 2 decades including felonies while he was still in grade school...the rap sheet above is from ages 17 to 27. Looks like a consistent progression and perhaps authorities shouldn't be surprised.Very sad.