Crime in the year 2012 began with an auto-part heist, as enterprising thieves made off with 24 catalytic converters from vehicles at McAdam Landscaping overnight on Jan. 9. The auto parts were cut from pickups and one-ton dump trucks used for snowplowing just as the weatherman predicted the year’s first serious snowfall. Shadowy figures were captured on videotape, and the weight of the getaway vehicle — filled with two dozen 70-pound car parts — reportedly shaved the earth off a landscape berm. Police believed the thefts to be the work of a two- or three-man team who also hit the Forest Park U-Haul in December and stole 62 converters from Castle Buick in North Riverside.
A daytime Saturday shooting after a dispute over a cellphone put a Bellwood man in the hospital on April 28. Forest Parker Gregory Hych, 33, shot the man in the neck in front of several witnesses in the 7-Eleven parking lot at Roosevelt Road and Desplaines Avenue. Hych allegedly found the man’s phone, called him and the two agreed to meet for its return. When the owner arrived, Hych allegedly demanded $100 and then the two argued and Hych shot him. Hych and 21-year-old Kenesha Sheridan were arrested a week later after Forest Park police nabbed them outside a foreclosed ranch house at York and Dunlop that was being used by squatters as a party house. A witness’ description of Hych’s chipped tooth and the pinging of the cellphone as it was being used by the thieves in south Forest Park helped police identify him. He was charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and obstructing justice. He is currently in Cook County Jail with bail set at $1 million.
Charges have yet to be filed for a likely arson-caused fire in the 1400 block of Marengo, which damaged a two-story rental house on June 1. Police recovered a red 5-gallon plastic gas can on the second floor at the top of the stairs and graffiti was spray-painted on the kitchen walls. Police characterized the blaze as “of a suspicious nature” and noted there was a “presence of accelerants.” The case is still under investigation.
Mistrial in 2009 gang shooting
After a hung jury, a Cook County judge declared a mistrial in the murder case of Bellwood resident Darrell J. Topps, accused of killing a teenager as she sat in the passenger seat of a parked car in Forest Park in June 2009. Jurors split 10-2 on Sept. 13 on the guilt of Topps, who was accused of firing 15 shots into a parked car at York Street and Desplaines Avenue, killing 18-year-old passenger Keyana Bates of Maywood.
Two men died in Forest Park in 2012 after being electrocuted on the third rail of the CTA track near the Blue Line station. Raymond J. Lynch, 66, of Des Plaines was found dead near the CTA maintenance garage on July 21. Jeffrey Knoll Jr., 28, of Frankfort died on the night of Aug. 7 after falling off the platform onto the third rail.
Police sexual assault suit continues
A sexual assault case, filed in March 2011 in federal court by a then-19-year-old female police department intern, “Jane Doe,” against Forest Park detective Young Lee, continued in 2012, with new allegations surfacing in Doe’s amended complaint.
Doe asserted Lee drugged and sexually assaulted her after asking her to accompany him on an underage “alcohol sting” at three bars in Berwyn.
New allegations filed in 2012 claimed Doe was told her wages would be paid by forgiving outstanding parking tickets. The new complaint also alleged the village created a hostile work environment that was “severe and pervasive.” The village denied these claims. The village’s response in 2012 acknowledged that sexual contact occurred between Doe and Lee, but asserted it was consensual and outside the scope of Lee’s duties as a police officer. The village said Lee was disciplined for “improper conduct” and that an independent investigator, hired by the village, found allegations of sexual assault were unfounded. The case continues in 2013.
8 taserings in less than a minute ruled ‘excessive force’
In October, a federal court jury ruled that Forest Park police Officer Daniel Miller, Detective Daniel Pater and Sgt. Peter Morrissette used excessive force during the 2008 arrest of an off-duty Chicago police officer after he was stun-gunned five times and tasered three times in less than 58 seconds during his arrest.
The jury awarded a $175,000 verdict for violating the civil rights of Chicago police Officer Richard Schmidt during an intoxication arrest after the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.