Prosecutor describes grisly murder of Joliet woman, son charged in her killing
BY BRIAN STANLEY firstname.lastname@example.org March 23, 2013 8:34PM
Updated: April 25, 2013 7:06AM
As prosecutors described in court the vicious details of how Jeanie Parker’s son allegedly stabbed her to death, before dumping her in the Des Plaines River, her sister apparently had heard enough.
Cynthia Parker-Mackins shrieked and fled to the hallway.
Prosecutor Peter Wilkes was describing in court Friday how Jeanie Parker’s son, Charles “C.J.” McCullum Jr., allegedly had become enraged with her last week and choked her until she passed out. Then, McCullum left the house, brought back a knife and stabbed her, causing the knife to bend in her body, Wilkes told Judge Roger Rickmon.
He got a second knife, Wilkes said, and left again. McCullum came back with a baseball bat and used it as a hammer on the knife handle, causing it to break off in his mother’s body, Wilkes said.
“I didn’t see C.J. in there,” Peggy Jeffries, Parker’s longtime friend, said. “That wasn’t him. It was a demonic spirit.”
The judge on Friday set McCullum’s bail at $5 million. Meanwhile, as of Saturday evening, Parker’s body was still missing.
Relatives at Parker’s sister’s house declined to comment Saturday, except one girl who asked that a reporter “tell the police to please find my aunt.”
Prosecutors say McCullom, 21, became angry with his 54-year-old mother late Wednesday night after an argument in the home at 118 Fifth Ave. McCullom 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.
Police found pools of blood and trails indicating the body had been dragged across the garage, doorway and stairs, police said. 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 allegedly saw another pool of blood in the back seat and blood on McCullum’s pants and shoes.
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.
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 has not yet been located, 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.
Parker family friend Steve Broadway of Joliet said Saturday that Parker’s death has left everyone who cared about her “numb.” Broadway said he was outside combing the area Saturday for any evidence that might help lead authorities to Parker’s body.
“Right now it’s pretty much about finding Jeanie and trying to get some closure for her,” he said.
The idea that McCullum killed his mother was “very odd,” Broadway said, adding that McCullum grew up as a “normal kid” who had everything he could have needed.
“There was something going on in that boy’s head we probably won’t understand,” Broadway said.
During the court hearing Friday, Parker’s brother, Terrance Robinson, stood in the courtroom where McCullum could see him on the video monitors. He 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.”
Contributing: Janet Lundquist