Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dorothy Williams, Chicago Serial Killer - 1991


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): A South Side woman who had been sentenced to death for the strangulation murder of an elderly woman earlier this year pleaded guilty to two additional murders on Wednesday and received two life terms. Assistant State’s Atty. Lori Levin said Dorothy Williams, 36, formerly of 508 E. 37th Pl., appeared before Cook County Circuit Court Judge James Heyda, where she entered the plea on charges that she killed two elderly men.

Cesar Zuell, 63, was fatally stabbed in his South Side apartment in December 1988 and Lonnie Laws, 79, was strangled and suffocated in his South Side apartment in December 1987, Levin said.

Earlier this year, Williams was convicted by a jury in the courtroom of Judge Shelvin Singer of strangling Mary Harris, 97, and stealing her stereo. Williams was sentenced to death for the killing.

Police found Williams’ fingerprints at each scene and Williams confessed to each of the killings, Levin said. Heyda sentenced Williams to life terms for the remaining two murder charges and gave her a seven-year prison term for a robbery she also pleaded guilty to, Levin said. [“Strangler Pleads Guilty In 2 Other Murders,” Chicago Tribune (Il.), Sep. 5, 1991]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): A South Side woman, convicted of strangling a 97-year-old woman and suspected of killing two elderly men, was sentenced to death Thursday [April 18, 1991] in Cook County Criminal Court.

In imposing the death sentence, Judge Shelvin Singer said 37-year-old Dorothy Williams, the mother of two grown children, employed a scheme to prey on the elderly. At a four-day sentencing hearing, prosecutors Joseph McNerney and Lori Levin presented evidence that, in addition to the three murders, Williams, formerly of 4445 S. Evans Ave., robbed five other elderly victims between 1986 and 1989.

The three murder victims and the five robbery victims all lived in Chicago Housing Authority or private senior-citizen residences within blocks of each other on the South Side, the prosecutors said. McNerney called Williams “a reverse Robin Hood who steals from those who have nothing and uses it for her own selfish interests.” A jury convicted Williams last month of murdering 99-pound Mary Harris, 97, of 4030 S. Lake Park Ave., while robbing her of a small stereo in July 1989. Williams told police after her arrest that she intended to sell the stereo and use the money to buy drugs. However, police found the stereo in Williams’ home and two of Williams’ fingerprints in the victim’s home.

Williams became the second woman in as many months sentenced to death in Cook County. She will join Geraldine Smith, convicted of the murder-for-hire of her boyfriend’s wife, on Death Row at Dwight Correctional Center, the state’s only women’s prison. Before Smith was sentenced in February, no woman had been sentenced to death in Illinois for decades. In arguing against the death penalty, Kathleen Pantle and Thomas Brice, assistant public defenders, pointed out that Williams hadn’t been convicted of the other two murders or the five robberies.

Williams, in fact, still faces possible trial on charges she robbed and killed Lonnie Laws, 81, and Ceasar Zuell, 64. Laws was strangled with his own belt in December 1987, and Zuell was fatally stabbed in December 1988, McNerney said. Williams’ other victims included a partially blind 93-year-old man and a 71-year-old man who used a walker, McNerney and Levin said. Prosecutors allege Williams pretended to be checking on a gas leak to gain entry to the 71-year-old man’s residence, hit him on the head with a board and dragged him around the room before he handed over $260.

During the sentencing hearing, when one woman testified Williams knocked two of her teeth out by hitting her with a milk crate in 1973, Williams became angry, held up her right hand and said, “I hit her with my fist.”

Williams’ mother and daughter testified on her behalf, but Williams had nothing to say before the judge sentenced her.[Matt O`Connor, “2nd Woman Sentenced To Death Row,” Chicago Tribune (Il.), April 19, 1991]

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For similar cases, see: Female Serial Killer Bandits

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