Cardell Taylor

Cook County State’s Attorney James McKay, Aug. 7, praised the quick thinking of Forest Park and River Forest officers in a 2011 arrest after a woman was ambushed and shot in a River Forest park. Devin Bickham Sr., 42, an ex-cop, was sentenced to 95 years in prison by Judge Noreen Valeria Love at Maybrook courthouse, for conspiring with his son and an accomplice to murder his girlfriend, Chervon Alexander, 28.

According to prosecutors, the victim believed she was going to marry Bickham Sr., but he was already married to someone else. To avoid being found out, Bickham Sr. devised a plan to shoot the victim in a car at Priory Park in River Forest around 10:20 p.m. on July 11, 2011.

While Bickham and Alexander sat in Bickham’s vehicle, Cardell Taylor, 38, arrived on the scene with a handgun and fired shots into the front passenger window, striking Alexander. He then jumped into a silver Chevy Impala, driven by Devin Bickham Jr., 23, and fled the scene. 

Forest Park officers, hearing a dispatch on the radio, spotted the Impala heading southbound on Harlem with the driver wearing a white T-shirt as described by witnesses to the shooting. 

According to police reports, Bickham Jr., at the wheel, reportedly looked in the direction of the Forest Park police officer, made eye contact and then snapped his head forward, sat up straight and gripped the steering wheel nervously. 

When officers curbed the Impala and asked Bickham Jr. and Taylor to step out of the car, a Forest Park officer noticed a .38 caliber handgun sticking out from beneath the driver’s seat.

When he heard police pointing out the handgun, Bickham Jr. reportedly told officers, “Some guy threw that gun in my lap.” Bickham then related that Taylor was his cousin and they had been visiting a girlfriend in Oak Park. He told police an unknown man had pitched the handgun through the open window of his car as they passed Division and Harlem Avenue. 

Taylor was “sweating profusely” during the arrest and at one point turned to Bickham and said, “I want to get my money now,” according to reports.

At Bickham Sr.’s trial, prosecutors pointed out the two were stopped “within a mile” of the shooting.

Forest Park Deputy Chief Thomas Aftanas praised the officers for their instincts and “good police work.”

He said local police departments work together to cover for each other.

“Whenever we hear the call from dispatchers in Oak Park or River Forest, our officers pretty much shoot right over to Harlem Avenue because that’s the artery,” Aftanas said. “Oak Park and River Forest [police] do the same when they hear a call in Forest Park.”

“If that car had turned on Chicago or Lake Street, our officers might not have found them so quickly,” Aftanas added.

As he had during the trial, McKay lauded the quick action of River Forest and Forest Park police in identifying and stopping the car used in the murder. The murder weapon was recovered from that car.

“If it wasn’t for the officers who stopped Devin Jr. and Cardell Taylor on Harlem Avenue, [Devin Sr.] would have gotten away.”

95 years for ex-cop in 2011 Priory Park ambush murder

Following scathing comments, Thursday, in which Circuit Court Judge Noreen Valeria Love characterized ex-cop Devin Bickham Sr., 42, as being, “a monster … not a human being,” she sentenced him to 95 years in prison for the 2011 ambush murder of his girlfriend, Chervon Alexander in a River Forest park.

Bickham got 80 years for the murder and an additional 15 years for a firearm being used. He will be required to serve 100 percent of the sentence.

“When he sets foot outside of the penitentiary, it will be in a prone position in a pine box,” Love said. 

Upon hearing the sentenced passed, the courtroom gallery erupted in extended applause requiring courtroom deputies to quiet the room.

On July 16, Love sentenced Bickham’s son, Devin Bickham Jr., 23, to 50 years. He’s currently in reception at Stateville, and will also serve the full sentence without parole, less three years and five days of time served in Cook County Jail awaiting trial.

The third man charged in the murder, Cardell Taylor, is expected to go on trial in September or October.

Assistant State’s Attorney James McKay said he was limited in what he could say prior to Taylor’s trial but allowed that his office was satisfied in the Bickham case.

“We’re very pleased the judge gave Devin Bickham [Sr.] the maximum allowed by the law for his despicable actions,” McKay said. “We can say a lot more after Cardell Taylor’s trial.”

As part of the prosecution’s aggravation argument, McKay elicited testimony from a former Lake County police detective who in 2000 investigated the senior Bickham’s sexual misconduct with a 17-year-old girl in the back seat of his North Chicago squad car. Bickham admitted his sexual misconduct in a five-page report he wrote and signed.

Bickham was fired from the department for that conduct but not criminally charged.

McKay stressed that Bickham’s actions in River Forest destroyed not one, but two families: Alexander’s and his own.

“He doesn’t care about them. He doesn’t care about his own family,” McKay told the judge. “Devin Bickham Sr. made Devin Bickham Jr. a murderer.”

—Court reporting by Bill Dwyer


Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...