Page 50 - March 2021
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CPMF honors six detectives for arrest of murder suspect
The murder of 65-year-old Chicago Fire Department Lieu- tenant Dwain Williams in December drew headlines after the retired firefighter died from injuries he sustained while ex- changing gunfire with would-be carjackers.
Six detectives who arrived on the scene — Matthew Rickher, Donnell Crenshaw, Dennis Clifford, Patrick McGinnis, Marc Delfavero and Matthew Vaci — immediately jumped into ac- tion for an investigation that ultimately led to the arrests of three men and a 15-year-old male in connection with Williams’ death. The detectives’ work earned them the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation’s February Officers of the Month Award.
Detectives got off to a good start in the hunt for Williams’ kill- ers as they discovered video surveillance footage of the shoot- ing, including images of the offenders exiting a Ford Fusion that had its license plate in clear view.
Rickher put the vehicle’s description and plate into a message to nearby suburban police agencies. Officers from neighboring jurisdictions soon began sharing tips with Area Two investiga- tors, prompting Crenshaw to meet with suburban departments, which provided more than a dozen names of potential suspects. Meanwhile, Clifford and McGinnis visited several gas stations in Markham and Chicago Heights, where they found video footage of multiple vehicle thefts, including one involving the 2013 Fu- sion connected to the Williams case.
Just two days after the shooting, Orland Park police reported that the Fusion had been located. As Delfavero worked to get
the car to CPD’s pound, Rickher secured a search warrant for the Fusion. On Dec. 7, 2020, the search turned up a cell phone connected to one suspect and seven usable fingerprints, with four hitting — including three belonging to the juvenile teen, who had been arrested for a vehicle theft in Markham.
During a search of the vehicle in the Markham case, detec- tives found the juvenile’s phone. The combination of phone evidence and the juvenile’s fingerprints connecting him to the Fusion prompted him to be taken to Area Two on Dec. 16.
With tips flowing in from the public and family members of the suspects coming forward after police released the shooting’s video, Rickher and Delfavero interviewed the juvenile with his mother present. Reviewing footage of the shooting, she identi- fied her son exiting the Fusion and then fleeing once the shoot- ing started. The juvenile later gave a full confession implicat- ing his codefendants, officials said. The teen explained that he had left the Fusion to help with driving Williams’ Jeep from the scene. As that interview took place, a second suspect was ar- rested. Both were charged with murder and attempted armed robbery.
The investigation didn’t slow down at that point, as detec- tives closed in on the two remaining suspects. Detectives were informed that one had been shot in Chicago Heights and that police there had his clothing. Rickher and Delfavero picked up those items and submitted them for analysis by the Illinois State Police crime lab — work that connected one suspect to a shoe found at the crime scene.
After arresting a third man at a motel in Lansing, detectives eventually learned that the fourth suspect had fled to Pennsyl- vania, where he allegedly took his girlfriend and his son by use of force. The suspect was arrested there on a kidnapping com- plaint. Rickher, Delfavero and Crenshaw extradited that man back to Illinois to stand charges in Williams’ death.
The depth of the detectives’ effort was cited as a key reason for their selection for the award.
“During this extensive investigation, over 20 search warrants were executed, two full confessions from murder offenders were captured on videotape and four extremely violent and reckless murder and stick-up suspects were taken off the streets,” CPMF Director of Operations Joel Salemme said at the February cer- emony. “Thanks to the successful and outstanding follow-up investigation of these officers, four dangerous and reckless sub- jects were arrested.”
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