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Oak Lawn man gets 17 years for killing wife

Joseph Jesk

Joseph Jesk

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Updated: January 17, 2012 8:19AM



The case ended as well as could be expected for the family of a young woman, a mother of two little girls, whose husband killed her shortly after returning from a deployment in Iraq.

On one hand, Heather Jesk’s uncle said Thursday on behalf of her family, Joseph Jesk will have serve just half of the 17-year prison sentence he got for admitting her killed her just a month after returning from active military service. On the other, Richard Knight said, Jesk’s a convicted murderer now that he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

“You take a life and you only get 17 years, and serve half that time,” Knight said, frustrated. “It’s the best, I think, we could have possible gotten.”

Jesk, a 24-year-old Army vet, gave his guilty plea to Judge John J. Hynes Wednesday in a Bridgeview courtroom full of his relatives and his in-laws, according to his attorney.

Judge John J. Hynes then sentenced him to the prison term, attorney Michael Clancy said.

Jesk had been indicted on six counts of first-degree murder, but the second-degree conviction means he’ll serve about six years in addition to the time he’s already spent in jail awaiting trial, Clancy said.

He and Heather argued in the basement of their home in the 4600 block of 101st Street in Oak Lawn on Feb. 27, 2010, after attending a fundraiser with other family members.

One of the guests followed the couple downstairs about 10:40 p.m. and saw Jesk holding a handgun, prosecutors said. That man ran upstairs fearing for his safety, prosecutors said.

Seconds later, Jesk fired at his wife’s forehead, leaving the 23-year-old in a pool of blood before running out a side door, prosecutors said. The couple’s daughters, then ages 11 months and 2 years, were not home during the shooting, officials said.

After the incident, Jesk called 911 telling police he’d “killed the only person he’d ever loved,” authorities said.

He was found with a folding knife near the Oak Lawn Metra station on 95th Street, police said.

Jesk had returned the month before from an 11-month tour of duty as a heavy artillery officer with the Army.

“Joe had had some problems coming back to normal life after being in Iraq and serving,” Clancy said. “It made for a pretty stressful home life and he and his wife were having some issues.”

Jesk, who Clancy said started dating Heather in junior high school, apologized to her family, their two daughters and the judge.

The little girls now are 2-1/2 and 4, and living with Heather’s parents, Knight said.

“We’ll never forget Heather,” he said. “There’ll always be a sad vacant spot in our hearts.

“The important thing now is to make sure Heather’s children are taken care of, to make sure they have a good life.”



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