Joliet man accused of killing mom, bail set at $5M
By Brian Stanley email@example.com March 21, 2013 1:12PM
Updated: April 23, 2013 2:05PM
JOLIET — Bail was set Friday at $5 million for a Joliet man accused of killing his mother and disposing of her body in the Des Plaines River.
Relatives of Jeanie Parker — whose body had not been found as of Friday — and her accused son, Charles “C.J.” McCullum Jr., were among those at the bond hearing. But Peggy Jeffries, a longtime friend of Parker, said she didn’t recognize the McCullum she knew.
“But I didn’t see C.J. in there. That wasn’t him,” she said. “It was a demonic spirit.”
Prosecutors say McCullum, 21, became angry with his 54-year-old mother late Wednesday night after an argument in the home at 118 Fifth Ave. Early Thursday morning, McCullum became so upset he choked her unconscious, prosecutor Peter Wilkes told Will County Judge Roger Rickmon.
“He then left the house, got a knife and stabbed her, causing the knife to bend in the body,” Wilkes said. “McCullum got a second knife and left again. He (believed) she was still alive and retrieved a baseball bat to hammer the handle of the knife, which broke off in the body.”
Cynthia Parker-Mackins, the victim’s sister, shrieked and fled to the hallway as Wilkes described her nephew’s alleged actions.
McCullum told police he drove to Bluff Park and threw his mother’s body in the river, police said.
When Parker didn’t keep a daily meeting she had about 7 a.m. with a neighbor who had seen McCullum acting erratically outside, police were called for a well-being check.
Officers found pools of blood and trails indicating the body had been dragged across the garage, doorway and stairs, police said. Cmdr. Brian Benton said Thursday that officers’ concern for Parker’s safety allowed them to enter the home without a search warrant, which was obtained later.
An upstairs bedroom had blood “splattered on the wall and television screen,” Wilkes said.
Police stopped McCullum driving his mother’s blue Dodge Intrepid about 10 a.m. on Houbolt Road and saw another pool of blood in the back seat and blood on McCullum’s pants and shoes, police said.
McCullum allegedly waived his Miranda rights and told detectives he’d killed his mother, later pointing out where he had put her body in the river.
The fire department used divers, sonar and submersible cameras Thursday in an attempt to find Parker’s body near the Jefferson Street Bridge, where the water is about 25 feet deep. A boat was used for two surface searches Friday, but no more dives were planned.
State law allows murder charges even when no body is found. McCullum is facing three counts of murder.
If convicted, McCullum faces 20 to 60 years in prison. But Wilkes said 60 years becomes the minimum if the brutal nature of the slaying warrants additional penalty after a trial.
While Parker’s body had not been located as of Friday afternoon, Wilkes said evidence technicians found two “blood-covered” knives and a baseball bat in her house.
“This is a sad day for everybody, including him,” Parker-Mackins said outside the courthouse.
During the hearing, Parker’s brother, Terrance Robinson, stood in the courtroom where McCullum could see him on the video monitors, but was not allowed to speak with him.
“I had 1 percent of sympathy left, but I didn’t see any remorse from C.J.,” Robinson said. “That’s your mother you just killed. His mom’s still in the river. Maybe he’s trying to be hard, but if he’d cried or something everybody (might) not hate him.”
Family and friends said mother and son argued frequently but had never before had a violent confrontation.
“She would bend over backwards for her sons,” Jeffries said. “She had a very loving family.”