Commission finds evidence of torture in new Burge cases
BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org July 26, 2013 10:49AM
Former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge walks to his attorneys' office after his sentence hearing at the Dirksen Federal Building on Jan. 20, 2011, in Chicago. | Sun-Times file photo
Updated: August 28, 2013 6:11AM
At 15, Anthony Jakes was slapped, punched, beaten and kicked while being interrogated for 16 hours, alone with Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge’s detectives, according to a new state report.
On Thursday, the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission found credible evidence of torture in Jakes’ case, as well as four others.
The commission’s report says a detective threatened to throw the Tilden High School freshman out a window and told the teen the Latin Kings would jump him if he refused to confess.
Now 36, Jakes is serving 40 years in prison for a 1991 murder and armed robbery, despite there being no physical evidence or eyewitnesses to the crime. The last page of his four-page confession includes the unusual statement: “He has been treated well by the police and the Assistant State’s Attorney.”
The two detectives listed in the Jakes report had worked for Burge when he was a commander in Area 2, and followed him to Area 3 after he was transferred.
Four of the five reports released Thursday involve Burge or detectives who worked under him. The cases will be moved to the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, where the victims will be assigned a trial judge to consider the commission’s recommendations, according to Commission Director David Thomas.
So far, the commission has ruled on 17 Burge cases, but Thomas said there are 100 pending claims.
Each investigation averages between six and seven months, Thomas said, depending on how old and complex the case is.
“It depends on a lot of factors, and we’re trying to get it done as soon as we can because some of these people are in prison based on nothing but a false coerced confession,” Thomas said. “It’s trying to deal with the Burge situation from the standpoint, not of the prosecution or the police, but providing some justice for the victims of the torture.”
Other reports released Thursday include the allegation of a forced confession by Scott Mitchell, a man who had been in psychiatric treatment since he was 3. Mitchell was diagnosed as an emotionally disturbed paranoid schizophrenic and had suffered dementia from repeated head trauma.
In 1996, Mitchell was interrogated by detectives for 33 hours. While repeatedly hit with a book and punched in the stomach and chest, detectives threatened to lock up his mother, which would have resulted in the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services taking away her other children, the report said. One of the detectives in the Mitchell case worked under Burge at Area 2. The commission says evidence ties the detective to another Burge torture case in 1986.
In another case, the report said Jerry Mahaffey confessed to the 1983 rape and murder of a 30-year-old North Side woman and beating death of her 26-year-old husband.
Upon entering Mahaffey’s apartment, a detective allegedly “grabbed JM by the collar, threw him against the wall, and put a gun to his head. The detectives then put JM on his daughter’s bed and kicked him in the groin and ribs. They threatened to put his children in an orphanage and his wife in prison. They retrieved a plastic garbage bag from the closet and ‘bagged’ JM; that is, they tightened it over JM’s head so that he could not breath. JM was screaming and bleeding,” the report said.
A neighbor who wrote an affidavit regarding the noise in Mahaffey’s apartment the night of the police visit stated: “It was my impression from what I heard that Jerry Mahaffey was getting the ‘s*** beat out of him.’”
Mahaffey was sentenced to death but had his sentence commuted to life without parole in 2003. His brother Reginald was also convicted and is serving life without parole. Burge supervised the five detectives involved in the Mahaffey case in the Area 2 Violent Crimes Unit.
Although not linked to Burge, another report recounted the case of Kevin Murray, who confessed to a double murder in 1987.
Murray was slapped, punched and kicked by detectives, punched in the ribs and kicked in the leg, groin in the chest, according to the report. When Murray was able to speak to a lawyer, he had an imprint of a foot on his chest, the filing said.
Chicago Police Det. John Summerville, who was later sentenced to four years in prison for sexually abusing women during traffic stops, was one of two detectives involved in Murray’s case.
Burge is currently serving a 4½-year prison term for lying under oath about the torture.