A long-awaited day of justice finally came on Tuesday, Jan. 23 for the family of Kristy Wesselman who was brutally assaulted and then murdered 32 years ago.
Michael Jones, now 64, pleaded guilty on Jan. 18 to raping and murdering 15-year-old Kristy Wesselman in July 1985.
Jones was sentenced to 80 years for Wesselman’s murder and will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. He would well be over 100 years old before he would be eligible for parole.
Before the judge announced the sentence, Sandra Wesselman, Kristy’s mother, read a victim impact statement.
“Kristy was murdered on July 21, 1985. We were denied our right to see what the final results of her journey would have been,” Wesselman said. “Kristy did not have the chance to go to her brothers’ or sister’s weddings. She never knew the joy of getting to know her nieces and nephews.
“Our pain from the loss of Kristy will never be completely healed. My children and I have built lives that are, to all appearances, normal. We are survivors.
“The pain of having a child murdered is life-shattering. Bill and Greg lost their little sister; Susan, her big sister; and I lost a part of me. This is but a small portion of her 15 years of life. What she would have become will forever be an unfinished book.”
Jones attacked and murdered Wesselman on the afternoon of July 21, 1985, near her home in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, about 20 miles west of Chicago.
The 15-year-old was walking back home after visiting a local shop to buy a candy bar and a soda.
A sheriff’s deputy found her partially nude body around 11 a.m. the next day just off the path between her home and the market. A few feet away lay the half-eaten candy bar she had just bought.
Wesselman had been stabbed eight times. She had a shoelace tied around her neck. She had been sexually assaulted.
But the case quickly went cold. Jones, originally from the town of Schiller about ten miles from Glen Ellyn, was already living in Champaign, Illinois, about 150 miles south of Glen Ellyn, when he murdered Wesselman and was never associated with the case.
To this day, he has not said why he was in that small town on that day.
In 2015, Jones was arrested on an unrelated aggravated domestic battery charge in Champaign County for which he was required to give a DNA sample, the Daily Herald reported. That same DNA sample was what helped authorities tie Jones to Kristy’s murder. DNA from the 1985 murder scene had been filed in a national database in 2000 at which point DNA testing became available to investigators.
History of Mistreating Women
Michael Jones was not unknown to police or corrections officers in Chicago. He had assaulted a woman, Judith Van Kirk, in 1976 but was not convicted.
“I was Michael Jones’ first victim,” Van Kirk said after the sentence was announced on Tuesday, reported the Daily Herald. “Michael Jones was a very violent man. He didn’t care about you or anything about you. He took away our innocence but he did not take our love away, that we have inside.
“Michael Jones got what he deserved. I wish it was a little bit sooner.”
A year after assaulting Van Kirk, Jones preyed on another young lady.
Geri Michael, 18, was riding a bicycle when Jones he used his car to knock her down. Then, Jones forced her at gunpoint into his parents house where he sexually assaulted her.
Jones pleaded guilty to assaulting Michael and was sentenced to 10 to 20 years for his crime, but he only served less than six before being released.
On Tuesday, Michael, now 67, said she attended the hearing to see her attacker finally put away for good.
“Had he served at least the 10 years, we wouldn’t be here today for this,” Michael said after the sentencing, reported the Daily Herald.
DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin also spoke after the sentencing.
“Since 1985, this case has been a black cloud over the people of DuPage County,’ he said, according to Glen Ellyn Patch. “Today, that cloud has finally been lifted by the forces of justice.
“Tonight, the Wesselman family, the community of Glen Ellyn, and all the people of DuPage County can sleep easier, because today, after 32 years of heartache, disappointment, angst and fear, there is finally justice.”
Berlin also said it was possible that Jones was responsible for still more crimes.
“There have been investigators looking at other unsolved cases, but I really can’t say more than that,” he told the Daily Herald.