Monday, November 10, 2008

Sheley's Trail of Terror

Final Update:
November 10
I thought I had gathered as much as I could about this killing spree, but I came across an article on that was posted the day after charges were filed against Nicholas T. Sheley for the deaths of Tom and Jill Estes in Festus, MO. (suburb of St. Louis). The article is titled "Spree killer's timeline here". I will incorporate as much of it as possible into this timeline. I embedded the link in the title above if you want to see it all. I also have a few things to add to step #9 on this timeline, and lastly, I will add a little commentary about the information gathered while compiling this timeline at the end. I try to present my entries in a manner that leaves it up to the reader to form their own opinions but since this is my opinions do get sprinkled in.

November 9
I have completed steps 12 through 19. That should finish this entry up!

Original entry: 10/30/08

I plan to attend the trial in Galesburg, IL for the murder of Ronald Randall,65, of Galesburg and blog about it here, I have spent a lot of time reading about the case of accused spree killer Nicholas Sheley. Sheley is accused of killing eight people in two-states in late June. Most of the information out there is from the beginning of July when Sheley was apprehended.

I remember seeing a report in a weekly paper in Galesburg called "The Zepher", one of the things that jumped out at me about this particular article, was a pdf included called "Sheley's Trail of Terror." I included a sample of the pdf here (map didn't come through too well on the blogger), I suggest you check out the article Nicholas Sheley's Bloody Trail by Mike Kroll, it's well written and informative. The download link for the pdf is located at the top of the story too. You can see the routes taken and what allegedly happened at each spot. What I will do is take each step of the spree from the pdf and enter as much info as I can find about each step. Because there is so much information I will post a couple steps at a time and update each time I add more info. Hopefully that will make it easier for reading...not soo longg.

Please, keep in mind that the information provided is culminated from various news reports and is by no means evidence in the case. I'm anxious to hear what evidence is presented at trial, it sounds like there wasn't much effort to clean up the crime scenes so there should be a lot of evidence. If you know of anything I have missed, please let me know.

1. Push-in strong arm robbery of 90 year old woman in Sterling, IL (June 14)

Authorities allege that Nicholas Sheley, a construction worker in the Sterling area, pushed his way into the elderly woman's home at about 8pm on June 14, 2008. He allegedly forced the woman to write him checks, stole cash and a credit card, as well as cigarettes before leaving her alive.

Sheley was immediately a suspect (victim identified him?) and after a search failed to locate him, a $750,000 warrant was issued on June 23.

Authorities said Sheley spent part of his time after June 14 in Chicago buying drugs; however, according to this AP story, it was about this time that Sheley and his wife,Holly, moved into Holly's mother's trailer in Mount Morris, IL.

Here is an excerpt from that story:

Marcia Frey laid down the law when her daughter and son-in-law, Holly and Nicholas Sheley, moved into her trailer after losing their apartment last month: No alcohol. No drugs.

And for a week, the newlyweds were a model family.

Nicholas took the couple’s young children to the park and swimming every day. He mowed the lawn. He washed dishes without being asked.
“For that one week, I thought that no one could have asked for a better son-in-law,” said Frey.

That began to end when the couple, who were saving for their own house, took their green Cadillac to a car title loan company. Sheley promptly used some of the $1,000 loan to buy alcohol, Frey said.
He turned mean, like he often did when he was drinking or on drugs. He and Holly quarreled, then Sheley stormed out of the house, hopped in the car and took off.

That was June 23.

On July 1, Federal prosecutors charged Sheley with leaving the state to avoid prosecution for the June 14 home invasion.

On August 1, a Whiteside County grand jury indicted Sheley on charges of home invasion, robbery and residential burglary in connection with a June 14 incident during which Sheley entered the Sterling home of 90-year-old Janice Wilson and stole money, checks and her MasterCard, according to the indictment.

2. Robbery and murder of Russell Reed, 93, Sterling (June 23)

At 8a.m. on June 26, family members of Russell Reed became concerned when they noticed that Reed had not checked his mail or picked up his newspaper for 2 days, and that his car was missing.

They called Whiteside County Sheriff's officials, who came to the home and found blood in the kitchen, garage and outside the house.

Sheley's car, an older Cadillac, was found near Reed's home. Deputies sent out an alert asking area law officers to keep an eye out for Reed's car. By 3pm that afternoon police locate Reed's missing car in a residential driveway in Sterling and find Reed's bludgeoned body in the trunk.

Whiteside County Coroner, Joe McDonald said Reed died from blunt force trauma to the head, neck and chest.

On August 1, a Whiteside County grand jury charged Nicholas T. Sheley, 29, with 10 counts of first-degree murder and one count each of home invasion, armed robbery, robbery and residential burglary in connection with the June 23 beating death of Russell Reed, 93, of rural Sterling. Prosecutors say Sheley entered Reed’s home and beat him to death using some kind of blunt weapon, then stole Reed’s wallet and checkbook, according to the indictment.

3. Reed’s body stuffed into his car trunk and the car is driven and parked in the driveway of Sheley’s brother’s girl friend in Sterling .(June 23-24)

Two of Sheley's family members, a cousin Eric Smith and brother Joshua Sheley and Josh's girlfriend were charged in connection to Reed's killing.

At a court hearing July 1 in Whiteside County, testimony indicated that Sheley's brother, Josh Sheley 31, allegedly contacted his girlfriend, Jenna B. Henson,20, on June 24 and asked if he could park Reed's 2003 Buick Century in her driveway. He also allegedly told his brother to park the car further back from the street.

Investigators say Henson and the Sheleys drove to Chicago on the June 25 allegedly to dispose of evidence from Reed's slaying. Joshua allegedly told his brother, "he was going to get him out of trouble".

Reed's car with his bludgeoned body in the trunk was found in Henson's driveway on June 26. Henson's house was searched but Nicholas wasn't there. Henson is accused of lying to police officers, allegedly telling them that she didn't know anything about the car in her driveway and that she had not seen Nicholas Sheley in 5 years. Joshua was picked up that night after a traffic stop.

Eric A. Smith, 28, whom investigators say was in contact with Sheley more than once since Reed's body was found was charged with obstructing justice for allegedly driving Sheley around "to get rid of some things," according to Sheriff Roger Schipper. Smith turned himself in the night of the June 27. Several days later investigators found that Smith, a convicted felon, allegedly had a Rohm .22-caliber revolver and cartridges, allegedly stolen by Nicholas Sheley.

Both Eric Smith and Joshua Sheley were on parole at the time of their arrest.

On July 16 a grand jury in Whiteside County handed down an indictment for the three alleged accomplices in the murder of Russell Reed. Eric Smith, 28, of Rock Falls, Joshua J. Sheley, 31, of Rock Falls and Jenna Henson, 20, of Sterling, were charged in connection with helping accused murderer Nicholas T. Sheley, 28, of Sterling, conceal Reed's death.

Eric Smith was charged with one count of being an armed habitual criminal, which carries six to 30 years in prison and two counts of unlawful possession of weapons by a felon which carries three to 14 years in prison. The obstructing justice charge was dropped. Smith remains in Whiteside County jail on a $100,000 bond.

Joshua Sheley was indicted on one count of concealment of a homicidal death, which carries two to five years in prison, and one count of obstructing justice, which carries one to six years in prison. He is in the Whiteside County jail on a $750,000 bond.

Jenna B. Henson, was indicted on two counts of obstructing justice, and faces up to three years in prison. She is free on bond. A pre-trial conference has been set for November 25.

Pre-trial hearings for Smith and J. Sheley were set for October 1; however, I haven't been able to find anything on what happened or if the hearings were held.

4. Sheley steals Lincoln Continental and eludes Dixon police in chase, abandons stolen car in Dixon and steals a red Jeep Cherokee (June 26)

Sheley is accused of ransacking a home in Rock Falls, stealing 2 loaded handguns, a .22 Ruger and a .32 revolver, some cash and miscellaneous items, as well as a 1999 Lincoln Continental. An off duty Rock Falls police officer spotted Sheley in the Lincoln about an hour before it was reported stolen by the owner.

At about 9:45 p.m., Dixon police saw the Lincoln. They chased it to a field, but saw when they reached the car that Sheley had fled. Officers found money and other items taken from the Rock Falls home, but not the guns.

Dixon, Sterling and Amboy Police, Lee and Whiteside Sheriffs officials and Illinois State Police searched all night using dogs and a helicopter, but Sheley wasn't found.

About 7 a.m. on Friday, June 27, Lee County Sheriffs Department received a call about a red Jeep Cherokee that was stolen about 1.5 miles from where the dogs last tracked Sheley. There was 2 guns and some hatchets in the Jeep when it was taken. A pair of muddy jeans were found alongside the road.

5. Sheley drove Jeep to Chicago to sell guns and stolen merchandise and purchase drugs (June 27)

William Monroe, an Assistant Special Agent in charge of the FBI's Chicago field office, said he believed Sheley traveled to buy drugs and sell stolen items in Chicago, where authorities recovered the two stolen handguns from the Rock Falls home.

6. Sheley drove Jeep to Davenport and stops at Rest Stop to telephone his wife
(June 28)

After his trip to Chicago, Sheley drove the Jeep to Iowa. According to an FBI agent in an affidavit, Sheley stopped to call his wife from a rest area pay phone between Davenport and Bettendorf Iowa.

Police say Sheley had previously ditched his own cell phone shortly after the Reed homicide so he couldn't be tracked through it.

Saturday, June 28 was the last day the four Rock Falls victims and the Galesburg victim was seen alive.

7. Sheley drove Jeep to Rock Island where he burglarized Illinois Petroleum and steals their truck (June 28)

Sheley then drove the Jeep to Rock Island where he apparently broke into the Illinois Petroleum facility, where he stole some clothing and the truck he later drove to Galesburg.

Lee County Sheriff John Varga said, after his arrest, Sheley directed police to where the 1999 red Jeep Cherokee was located, which was found in the Quad Cities area.

8. Sheley drove Illinois Petroleum truck to Galesburg exiting I-74 on to Main Street (June 28)

Police believe that Sheley arrived in Galesburg just before 8pm, Saturday June 28 driving the stolen Illinois Petroleum truck.

It's reported that evidence shows Sheley exiting westbound off I-74 at the Main Street exit. Officials have reason to believe that Sheley cruised at least one other parking lot as he searched for a replacement vehicle before he arrived at the car wash. Randall was already busy at his truck when Sheley arrived well before dark and accosted the 65 year old man in plain sight.

9. Sheley drove Illinois Petroleum truck to Southard’s Car Wash on East Main where he kills Ronald Randall and steals his 2007 Chevy pickup (June 28)

Sheley is alleged to have accosted Ronald Randall at the Southard's Car Wash on East Main Street at a little after 8pm Saturday, June 28, as Randall was vacuuming the interior of his dark blue 2007 Chevy Silverado pickup truck. Apparently Randall was leaning into the passenger-side door when Sheley is presumed to have attacked him from behind with a still unidentified blunt object beating Randall about the head and face. Randall was then carried or dragged to the tailgate of his truck and thrown into the truck bed beneath a tarp.

Sheley allegedly left the stolen Illinois Petroleum truck at the car wash. The truck was reported on Sunday, June 29, before the owners even knew it was missing, however Randall had not been reported missing yet so there was no connection made.

When Randall's family reported him missing Monday, June 30, they also told Galesburg Police about the On-Star system built into his missing truck and suggested that it could be used to locate him. At that time they did not suspect foul play. On-Star officials were contacted and subsequently were able to direct St. Louis police to the truck there. By the time the truck was located so too had Randall's body.

Sheley is currently being held in Knox County on a $10 million bond and will be tried in Galesburg first in connection to the alleged killing spree.

On July 28 a Knox County Grand Jury handed up a 17-count bill of indictment for the death of Ronald Randall. The indictment includes 10 counts of first-degree murder — three that state victim Ronald Randall was more than 60 years old and allege his death was the result of exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty. If Sheley, 28, of Sterling is convicted of first-degree murder and aggravating factors are found, he could be sentenced to death. Also included in the indictment are two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated vehicular hijacking and one count armed robbery — all Class X felonies punishable by six to 30 years in prison; one count of robbery, a Class 1 felony; and one count of possession of a stolen vehicle, a Class 2 felony.

On September 4, Knox County State’s Attorney John Pepmeyer filed the state’s intent to seek the death penalty in the case. Since it is now a capital murder case, Sheley has the right to two attorneys. Jeremy Karlin was appointed to assist Knox County Public Defender Jim Harrell in Sheley’s defense.

At a hearing Sept. 19, Sheley told the court he wanted to fire his attorneys and represent himself. He accused the pair of “sophisticated fast-lawyer talk” and were not adhering to his wishes for a speedy trial and his wishes were being “blown off as unimportant.”

Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart said Sheley must undergo a fitness hearing to determine whether he is fit to stand trial, competent to waive his right to counsel and competent to represent himself before he is permitted to fire his attorneys and represent himself.

On Oct. 2, Dr. Terry Killian was appointed to conduct a fitness hearing on Sheley. Killian has until Nov. 2 to submit a written report that includes a diagnosis and explanation of how it was reached; a description of Sheley’s mental or physical disability, if any; and an opinion as to whether and to what extent it impairs Sheley’s ability to understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings against him.

According to Knox County Coroner Mark Thomas, no inquest will be held in the death of Ronald Randall. Randall's permanent death certificate was filed with the Knox County Clerk's office on Nov. 6 with the cause of death listed as blunt force injuries of head. The death was ruled a homicide.

10. Sheley drove the Chevy pickup with Randall’s body in the bed to the rear of the East Main Hy-Vee where he hides Randalls body behind dumpster (June 28)

Sheley is alleged to have driven eastbound on Main Street with Randall in the back of the truck. There is reason to believe that while Randall was mortally injured he was not yet dead when his body was dumped beside the dumpster in back of the East Main Street Hy-Vee. A trail of blood was found leading to and from the Hy-Vee dumpster area. Randall's body was not reported to police until Monday shortly after noon. It had been beside the dumpster approximately 40 hours before police were called, reportedly his body had been seen by Hy-Vee employees Saturday night who dismissed it as that of a drunk and did not investigate further until Monday.

11. Sheley drove the Chevy pickup to the adjacent Hy-Vee gas station where he buys cigarettes and then leaves Galesburg heading to Rock Falls

Witnesses as well as other evidence have Sheley driving Randall's pickup truck into the parking lot of the Hy-Vee gas station at about 8:20 p.m. Saturday where he parked beside a gas pump and entered the convenience store to purchase cigarettes. Sheley was wearing bloody clothes from the Illinois Petroleum truck and he had visible blood on his face and neck but this apparently did not seem sufficiently suspicious to cause the gas station employees to take special note of the man or vehicle or call police. Again a trail of blood was found tracing the path of the pickup and puddling where it was briefly parked.
When Sheley drove off minutes later he turned eastbound on Main Street presumably to get back on I-74, he had been in Galesburg less than an hour.

12. Sheley drove the Chevy pickup to a Rock Falls apartment where he murders two men, a women and 2-year old child (June 28)
Rock Falls is about an 85 mile drive from Galesburg. Rock Falls is across the Rock River from Sterling (Sheley's stomping grounds), both are in Whiteside County. Police estimate that Sheley was back in Rock Falls sometime after 10 pm on June 28.

At 4 p.m., June 30, the Rock Falls Police Department received a call requesting a welfare check at an apartment on Ave. A. Inside the apartment, police find the bodies of two men, a woman and a child. According to police, Sheley, who is associated with one of the victims, is "a person of interest" in the quadruple homicide.

They all died of multiple blunt force trauma to the head. It's likely they died late Saturday, June 28 or early Sunday, June 29.

Sheley allegedly attacked and beat to death the two men, (Kenneth Ulve Jr., 25 and Brock Branson, 29), a woman (Kilynna Blake, 20) and Blake's two year old son (Dayan Blake)in the apartment shared by the four. Branson met Blake in Cedar City, Utah and brought her and her son to live with him in Rock Falls. They were engaged to be married.

Speculation is that Sheley went back to Rock Falls to confront Branson, who had previously had a relationship with Sheley's wife, Holly. It's reported that Holly and Sheley had dated for 5 or 6 years and, despite a history of domestic violence between them, had married in May of this year.

A different report cites Illinois State Police Region Two Commander, Mark Maton as saying Sheley was aquainted with both male victims.

I also remember seeing a report on the local news ( I couldn't find it again) with the father of one of the male victims (can't remember which one) , he said he was certain his son didn't know Sheley before the incident. He said they had spoke of Sheley after the home invasion and the death of Russell Reed.

During the investigation, described by the authorities as aggressive and very thorough, that lasted nearly 3 months, very few details have been released about this case.

On September 18, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Whiteside County State’s Attorney Gary Spencer announced a Whiteside County grand jury has indicted Nicholas Sheley for four murders in Rock Falls on June 28, 2008.

The indictment consists of 15 counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Kilynna L. Blake, 20, Dayan K. Blake, 2, Brock A. Branson, 29, and Kenneth R. Ulve, 25. Three of the 15 counts allege that one of the victims was younger than 12 years and his death resulted from exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty. Spencer has 120 days after arraignment to file an order to seek the death penalty. Bond in Whiteside County has been set at $100,000,000.

It's reported that victim, Kenneth Ulve's, half-sister, Kendra Kruse, said she hopes the indictment of Sheley in connection with the slayings means that her family can finally find out exactly what happened. Kruse said it has been difficult for her family to go through the past several months with so little information about what happened to Ulve.

13. Sheley drove the Chevy pickup to Festus, MO searching for ex-penpal (June

When Sheley left Rock Falls late Saturday night he was en route to Festus, Mo. Attempting to locate a woman with whom he had developed a penpal relationship with while he was in jail.

Teri Engel met Sheley through a group of Jefferson College students. She was taking courses there during her senior year at Festus High School. She said Sheley wasn’t a college student, but may have lived in the area. They lost touch, but friends told her he got in trouble for drugs.

Had Engel known Sheley was violent, she said, she wouldn’t have written to him. She thought he was in prison for drugs. However, drugs were only part of it. Sheley served time for aggravated robbery and other convictions. He was charged with beating his ex-wife unconscious, court records show.

But his letters told a different story. Some rambled for hundreds of pages, Engel recalled. Some reflected on astrology, his love for his children, his desire to change his life and his admiration for Engel’s former work with the developmentally disabled.

The two occassionally talked by phone after his release. Even though their relationship was never romantic, Teri Engel said that he got upset if she didn’t write him back or answer his calls.

The two last spoke 2 years ago when Sheley called Engel around 1 a.m. to wish her a Merry Christmas. Engel said she cussed him out for calling so late and hung up. That was the last she heard from him....but....he didn't forget her.

14. Sheley arrives in Festus, MO and unsuccessfully searches for woman (June 29)

Around noon on June 29, Engel’s nephew, Keifer Meyer, 15, answered a knock on his door. “He asked if Teri lived here, and I said, ‘No,’ and then he said, ‘Are you sure?’ and recited our address and phone number,” Keifer said.

Keifer said Sheley was driving a dark Silverado — the vehicle he is charged with stealing after allegedly murdering its owner in Galesburg, Ill.

He asked to see a picture of Engel. Her nephew said he didn’t have one, but told Sheley she worked at Lowe’s in Festus.

Sheley was next seen walking in Sunset Park in Festus at 12:15 p.m.. At 12:25 Sheley makes a phone call from Champions Merchantile on Collins Drive.

At about 12:44 Sheley was at Lowes probing Engel’s coworkers for information. She was at her goddaughter’s birthday party. A coworker called to say someone was looking for her. “He told her he was my penpal, and that’s when I knew it was Nick,” she said. Engel thought it was strange, but had no reason to believe anyone was in danger.

At 1 p.m. Sheley stops in Payless Shoe Store in Festus.

When, Engel heard about Tom and Jill Estes. She went to the Festus police station. Her nephew picked Sheley’s photo out of a lineup, and Engel told them what she could about Sheley. But there wasn’t much to say.

Police said Engel is not considered an accomplice and is lucky to be alive.

Tears well when Engel talks of Tom and Jill Estes. She wonders if Sheley turned on them when he couldn’t find her.

“Maybe if he got what he wanted from me, like revenge for me hanging up on him two years ago, he would have moved on, or if I didn’t write to him at all he wouldn’t have come here,” she said. “I’ll never know why he was looking for me.”

And she doesn’t plan on writing him a letter to find out.

15. Sheley attacks and murders 54 year-old Arkansas couple in Comfort Inn parking lot (June 29)

A couple from Sherwood Arkansas, Tom and Jill Estes (both 54) were visiting Festus that weekend as they attended a graduation ceremony Sunday afternoon and evening. The couple had checked in to the Comfort Inn on Friday and were last seen Sunday when they left the party at around 10:30p.m. to return to their motel room at the Festus Comfort Inn. Speculation is that as the couple took their dogs out when they returned to the motel and had the misfortune of crossing paths with Sheley in the parking lot late that evening.

11:30 p.m. — Truck driver at JB Hunt calls police to report a man parked in a Silverado pickup behind nearby Steak ‘n Shake and trying to enter the trucking building. 11:39 p.m. — Police run check on Illinois plate on the Chevy Silverado; it is not yet reported as stolen.

At a news conference in Festus, police said that a hotel guest found a couple's two small dogs around midnight roaming the parking lot and covered in blood. When police arrived, they found the couple's dogs unharmed, their 2007 Corvette untouched, two pairs of eyeglasses, a pair of earrings and a lot of blood.

Sheley is not believed to have had a prior relationship with the couple, police said.

On July 10, Jefferson County prosecutor Forrest Wegge charged 28-year-old Nicholas Sheley with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of armed criminal action for the deaths of Tom and Jill Estes. Wegge said no decision has been made on whether to seek the death penalty. "It’s on the table and, quite frankly, it’s at the center of the table," Wegge said.

16. Sheley puts two bodies in back of pickup, drives to gas station 1 1/2 miles away to dump bodies (June 29)

Tom and Jill Estes were brutally beaten in that parking lot and their bodies thrown into the bed of Randall's pickup truck so they could be driven a 1 1/2 miles to be dumped behind a gas station late Sunday, June 29.

St. Louis area police officials say they found the bodies of the Estes at 11:14 am by following yet another of Sheley's blood trails from the Comfort Inn parking lot to the Phillip's 66 gas station.

At 12:19 am. on June 30 Randall's Silverado was caught on video arriving at Walmart. There is video of him buying clothes and finally leaving the Wal-Mart parking lot in the Silverado at 12:44am.

According to court records an off-duty Herculaneum police officer and several employees saw Sheley covered in blood at Wal-Mart. But no one called police.The officer, who joined the force 30 days ago, is embarrassed and upset because he didn't react, said Chief Chris Pigg.

17. Sheley drives pickup back to St. Louis where he abandons it and steals another vehicle (June 30)

Court records also say that Sheley was seen leaving the Silverado in St. Louis sometime between 8:30 to 9:30 am on Monday, June 30.

The stolen truck belonging to Randall, the victim in Galesburg, was recovered the morning of Monday, June 30 at 10:15 am in St. Louis, near an Anheuser-Busch distribution plant, authorities said

Large amounts of blood were later found on the truck's passenger seat and in the truck bed that officials have positively identified to include that of Randall and Sheley and the Estes'. Other physical evidence, including Sheley's fingerprints, and one of Jill Estes sandals, have been processed by forensic technicians in St. Louis where the truck was recovered.

I had seen a report early on that Sheley was spotted at a ballgame in St. Louis on the night of June 30, but frankly I disregarded it because there were a lot of "sightings" reported. The timeline from shows that at 11 pm on June 30, Sheley borrowed a phone from a baseball fan at Busch Stadium and at 11:25 pm borrowed another cell phone outside the stadium.

18. Sheley is arrested outside of bar in Granite, City, Illinois. (July 1)

During the hunt for Sheley, the St. Louis County Police Department issued a bulletin describing him as an "extremely dangerous" methamphetamine addict. "He has stated to his wife that he has more killing to do," the bulletin said.

Tuesday morning, July 1, police in tactical gear searched a Collinsville, Ill., apartment building for Sheley, but were unable to locate him.

The intense manhunt for the "armed and dangerous" suspect, which included a $25,000 reward, concluded quietly Tuesday night when Nicholas Troy Sheley stepped outside a bar to smoke and was taken into custody by police in the southwest Illinois town of Granite City.

Sheley all but ensured his capture Tuesday when he called his attorney from a Subway restaurant in Granite City.

A person close to the investigation told The Associated Press that the call was the last of multiple phone calls Nicholas Sheley had with the attorney that day. The person -- who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing -- says the attorney was talking to Sheley at the FBI's direction.

At about 7 p. m., a disheveled Sheley happened into a nearly empty Granite City tavern called Bindy's that is frequented by off-duty police, said Bill Watson, 55, the bar owner.

Sheley looked nervous, disoriented and shaky, Watson said, "not our usual clientele."Two regular customers—Gary Range and Samantha Butler—and bartender Jennifer Lloyd immediately recognized him, said Watson, who also was in the bar. Just before Sheley arrived, they had been watching television coverage of the slayings that featured Sheley's mug shot, Watson said.

Afraid of alerting Sheley that they knew who he was, Range quietly stepped outside and flagged down nearby police officers, who were searching for the suspect, Watson said. Soon after Range returned, Sheley tried to light a cigarette and was sent outside to smoke."That's the first time the smoking law [has] done us any good," Watson said. "He went outside to smoke, and that's when the police caught him."

I haven't heard if these citizens were given the $25,000 reward. They should, IMO! The police were already looking for him in the area because of the calls to his lawyer, but those folks didn't know that. If they hadn't been tipped off, there's no gaurantee the police would have got him otherwise.

19. Sheley is transported from Madison County jail to Knox County Jail (July 3)

In a statement Tuesday, the FBI said all eight victims were killed by "blunt force trauma" to the head. A law-enforcement source said an ax was used in one or more of the homicides, and that method led authorities to begin linking the crimes.

Sheley didn't speak before he was driven by Granite City police to the Madison County Jail in Edwardsville, near Granite City. An afternoon court appearance was held Wednesday, July 2, by video conference, to determine bond issues but, Sheley did not enter a plea.
He was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Ronald Randall. Other charges include aggravated battery, vehicle hijacking and vehicle theft. Bond was set at $1 million.

Knox County officials transported Sheley to the Knox County jail sometime Thursday morning, picking him up from the Madison County jail. His first court appearance in Knox County was at 2 pm Thursday, July 3.

As stated above, Sheley is still being held in the Knox County jail but the bond has increased to $10 million. He is currently awaiting the results of a fitness hearing to determine if he is fit to stand trial, fire his lawyers and represent himself.

As I stated above, I am planning on attending Nicholas Sheley's murder trial in Galesburg, IL if/when it happens. I'm pretty sure he will be found competent to stand trial, although I'm not so sure about him being competent to represent himself. There is a different standard and rightly so.

I compiled all of the information in this timeline, and explored Sheley's criminal history in an entry that I posted at the end of October, in an effort to get a better "feel" for all of the aspects of this case and share what I find with you. I have no connection to any of the victims in this case or to Nicholas Sheley...I guess you can say I have no irons in this fire, except those of a citizen who wants to see justice done. It appears the deaths of Mr. Randall and Tom and Jill Estes were a random choice based on could have been anyone of us!

As a true crime junkie, there are some aspects of this case that are different from many of the cases that I follow. This suspect left such a clear and consistent trail of physical evidence at each step of this crime spree, that even without a direct witness to any of the killings, there is, according to police, ample evidence connecting Sheley to each death. Has he gotten away with so much that he fancies himself as "teflon"? Or was he in a drug induced rage? Or does he just not care? All of the above? Someone close to this case told me, "It's not for us to figure out why someone would do something like this, it's for us to figure out what will be done about it!"

I'll leave it at that for now.


Illinois Attorney General

Chicago Tribune Sherwood Wire


The Zepher

Rockford WREX



Peoria Journal Star


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  1. This morning I had the Chief-of-Police for Festus, MO, speaking in my criminal justice class. (I'm a student) He spoke for a long time & in detail about this case. In particular, the Estes', from beginning to end from every aspect. I've never been so nauseas from only hearing a story. It really had me unsettled. I'm a psych major so I really looked at this w/ heart ache. I had to search for resolution and your blog helped answer many of my questions. Thank you.

  2. I'm glad that my blog was able to provide you some explanation if not solace about this very unsettling story. I'm not looking forward to hearing the gruesome details that will be presented at trial. Thank you for your comment.Good luck in your studies.

  3. my name is teri engel and part of this story involved me. i'm glad to read something unbiased and real about the situation. i still have nightmares about what he did and i thank god tha my family is safe. i have a very hard time coming home to festus due to this man and what he did. again, i am sorry to the estes family for their losses.

  4. Teri,

    I'm glad you found your way here.I'm also glad that you and your family are safe. I hope you don't feel responsible for what happened to the Estes. It is a terrible loss for the families of all the victims but the killer is the one responsible for the deeds. I truly believe there will justice, it's unfortunate it will take so long, particularly for the family of the Estes.

    On the right hand side of the page is a section called "labels". If you click on Sheley's name in that section, all entries posted here will come up starting with the most recent. There are so many entries because of the number of hearings I have attended in the murder case and the assault case that you need to continue to older posts at the bottom of each page. Sorry if I'm telling you something that you already know, don't mean to be redundant but want to be sure you know how to access everything.

    Stop by and comment anytime. You can reach me by e-mail on my profile page if you have any questions or comments you don't feel comfortable posting here.

  5. thank you for the reply...actually, i don't know a lot about what happened after they caught him, or what's happening now...i moved shortly after the whole thing...i know that he continued his psychotic behavior in prison, and i also know that i would love to be there when he goes on trial in MO...and after so much time has passed, i'd actually LOVE to know what he wanted with me...guess that last one will never get answered, huh?

  6. Hello Teri,
    I can certainly understand your separating yourself from all things Sheley.
    Yes he continued his psychotic behavior here by attacking fellow inmates until he attacked 4 corrections officers which landed him in Pontiac prison for the next couple years. It doesn't really matter...he will be locked up the rest of his days.
    If you decide you want to know more it is all here. I doubt you will ever know what he wanted of you nothing he says can be believed, but I think you can assume the worst.
    Once again, come by any time....sorry I took so long to respond this time.

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