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Men face separate first-degree murder charges

Jorge 'George' Torrez

Jorge "George" Torrez

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Updated: June 17, 2012 8:17AM

Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Waller announced Tuesday that a Chicago man has been charged with first-degree murder in a 1994 murder case and that Jorge Torrez has been charged with first-degree murder for the 2005 stabbings of 8-year-old Laura Hobbs and Krystal Tobias, 9.

Bail was set Tuesday at $3 million for Hezekiah Whitfield, 42, of Chicago. Whitfield faces six counts of first-degree murder and faces up to life in prison for allegedly murdering Frederick Reckling in 1994.

James Edwards, 63, was arrested in 1996 for the Reckling murder. He is in custody at Menard Correctional Center serving a life sentence for this murder case, according to Illinois Department of Corrections.

Edwards’ defense attorney Paul DeLuca had previously asked Lake County court to test mystery DNA found at the Reckling crime scene that did not match Edwards or Reckling.

“There was no physical evidence that puts (Edwards) at the crime but his statement,” DeLuca said.

Edwards made a false confession in this case, DeLuca said. The state unsuccessfully sought the death penalty.

“He could have been dead by now. That’s the scary part of this case,” DeLuca said.

The identity of the DNA taken from blood found at the crime scene is under a court-ordered seal. DeLuca said as best as he could recall, the theory of the Reckling murder was that there was one offender.

Two men are currently charged with murdering Reckling.

In light of Whitfield’s charges, DeLuca said he hoped the case against Edwards would be dismissed. Edwards’ post-conviction petition case is due in Lake County again on May 25.

Reckling died of multiple blunt force trauma. Reckling was found dead at his appliance store in Waukegan on Dec. 8, 1994. Waller and Waukegan Police Department announced Whitfield’s arrest Tuesday, citing “newly developed leads and forensic findings” that led to Whitfield’s arrest in a press release.

Whitfield is due for arraignment May 17.

First-degree murder charge in 2005 Zion stabbings

Jerry Hobbs was charged with the double-homicide of his daughter Laura and her friend Krystal. The bodies of the two girls were found in Beulah Park Forest Preserve in Zion on May 9, 2005.

Hobbs signed a written confession after an interrogation that lasted more than 20 hours in 2005. Charges against Hobbs were dropped in 2010 after DNA evidence linked Jorge Torrez, 23, to the murders. Hobbs was released from custody after being incarcerated at Lake County Jail for five years.

Torrez is charged with 18 counts of first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing the girls to death.

Torrez is in custody at Alexandria Virginia Detention Center serving five consecutive life sentences plus 168 years in prison for rape, robbery and abduction in two separate attacks on a college student and of a civilian woman in 2010. He also faces federal first-degree murder charges in Virginia for allegedly killing a Navy petty officer at a base in Arlington, Va., in 2009, according to news reports from the Washington Post.

Torrez faces a mandatory life sentence in prison without parole if he is convicted of the Zion murders.

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