The murders occurred after midnight on a Sunday, during the early
morning hours of Sept. 21, 2009. But, the family was not discovered
until late afternoon, around 4:30 p.m. that Monday.
department was the lead investigative team involved with what was
described as a horrific crime scene.
Sheriff Steve Nichols oversaw the thorough collection of an
overwhelming amount of evidence and the massive search for the
unknown killer or killers. He called in the state police, and the
FBI joined the investigation also. He conducted news conferences and
Once the suspects were arrested, the department continued for
several years to help prosecutors build their cases.
When the Logan County Board met for its adjourned session in
June, Nichols was present as security for the meeting.
Board member Terry Carlton spoke for the board, praising the
sheriff and his office. He began by recollecting that Logan County
State's Attorney Jonathan Wright was present at the board of whole
and that Wright and his office were praised for their extensive work
and ultimate success in convicting the murderer.
"A lot of that, their ease of stuff, went into the evidence your
team collected; how you kept it," Carlton said. "There were no
mistakes and there was not difficulty up there (during the trial)
because of the way your organization operated."
Carlton credited the sheriff for bringing in outside help that
also aided in the early investigation and capture of two suspects.
He added, "And, how you partnered with Illinois State Police. You
did a great job."
Unknown to most people, a considerable amount of work was
performed by the sheriff's investigators during the two months
preceding the trial. The attorneys requested additional witness
statements and evidence to be collected as the trial drew closer.
[to top of second column]
Sheriff Nichols first responded: "I just want you to know the
work that my two detectives did. In one week we were in Kansas,
Iowa, Missouri and southern Illinois. There were other trials going
on, there was a lot going on. But the work they did interviewing
people helped shorten the trial. For the work that they did, the
defense did not call five more of the witnesses. My hats off to
"The work they (the detectives) did, they did on short notice.
I'd get a call at noon; they (the prosecution) needed something by 8
o'clock in the morning. I made a phone call and they (the
detectives) made it happen.
"I attended the trial every day and watched the prosecution do
their job in a very splendored way.
"I'm glad it's over. It was time. Now we can move on."
Nichols concluded, "So, thank you."
Softly murmured "thank yous" reverberated throughout the board
room, including from chairman Bob Farmer and law enforcement chair
Rick Aylesworth. "Thank you for your leadership," said Sally
Litterly, clerk and recorder.
The county had taken out bonds to cover up to $1 million in
costs. The abbreviated trial saved the county (taxpayers) money,
which was further reduced when Jason Harris took a plea bargain and
only one trial was conducted. Costs were yet coming in but are
expected to be less than half the budgeted amount.
[By JAN YOUNGQUIST]
Past related articles