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Nicholas Troy SHELEY

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Spree killer
Characteristics: Robberies
Number of victims: 8
Date of murder: June 26-30, 2008
Date of arrest: July 1, 2008
Date of birth: July 31, 1979
Victim profile: Ronald Randall, 65 / Tom and Jill Estes, both 54 / Russell Reed, 93 / Brock Branson, 29; Kenneth Ulve, 25; Kilynna Blake, 20, and her son, Dayan, 2
Method of murder: Blunt force trauma to the head
Location: Illinois/Missouri, USA
Status: Found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Ronald Randall on September 29, 2011
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Nicholas Troy Sheley (born July 31, 1979) is an American ex-convict accused of eight murders across four towns in Illinois and Missouri. He was arrested on July 1, 2008 in Granite City, Illinois. A $25,000 reward was offered for information leading to his arrest. Federal authorities charged him with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Sheley, of Rock Falls, Illinois, had been arrested frequently since adolescence for crimes ranging from marijuana possession to domestic battery.

The day of his arrest, Sheley was seen at a St. Louis Cardinals game, where he asked to use a tailgater's cell phone. Sheley also requested that the man delete the phone numbers. However, police were able to trace the call back to a drug house in the Kirkwood area. This, coupled with statements from witnesses, led directly to Sheley's arrest.

To this date, he has only be charged with one murder. He is, however, a person of interest in the deaths of a 93-year-old man, a child, a couple, and one man with whom he was acquainted and another man, 65-year-old Ronald Randall of Galesburg, Illinois.

 
 

Sheley pleads not guilty to five 2008 killings

Pjstar.com

September 26, 2011

MORRISON, Ill. — Accused spree killer Nicholas Sheley will fight charges that he allegedly killed five people in Illinois' Whiteside County in 2008.

The Quad City Times reports he pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Monday.

Sheley, of Sterling, is accused of eight killings during a 2008 crime spree in Illinois and Missouri. Last week, he was found guilty in Knox County in the beating death of Ronald Randall. Jurors deliberated for less than an hour before reaching a verdict.

Sheley is charged with killing 93-year-old Russell Reed of Sterling, who was found in the trunk of his car; 29-year-old Brock Branson, 25-year-old Kenneth Ulve, 20-year-old Kilynna Blake and her 2-year-old son, Dayan, were all found in an apartment in Rock Falls;

He is also accused of two deaths in Missouri.

 
 

After fast verdict, Sheley killing spree cases could slow

ColumbianMissourian.com

September 24, 2011

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — It took more than three years for Nicholas Sheley to go to trial in the first of eight slayings authorities allege he committed during a two-state crime spree.

The one part of the process that has been quick was the verdict in the first trial: Jurors took less than an hour Monday to convict Sheley in the June 2008 beating death of Ronald Randall. But Sheley still faces charges in seven other deaths, and his path through the legal system is expected to again slow to a crawl. The last prosecutor in line says he may have to wait years.

For Lyle Reed, the frustrating wait has been as much a part of his life as the unfading memory of finding blood on his father's porch and in the kitchen of his Sterling, Ill., farm house back in June 2008, days before 93-year-old Russell Reed was found dead in his car. The murder charges against Sheley include that killing and four others in nearby Rock Falls, Ill., for which he will be arraigned on Monday. The other two killings were in Festus.

"As far as I'm concerned it's just a sideshow. He's guilty as sin," Lyle Reed said, adding that he knows he'll eventually have to go to the Whiteside County Courthouse as a witness but otherwise wants no part of watching Sheley make his way toward trial. "I'll have to (go), but not any more than I have to. I don't plan to sit through it at all."

The first case involved the death of Ronald Randall. Jurors ultimately made their decision quickly because DNA evidence drawn from blood found in Randall's truck was a powerful persuader, one said.

The prosecutor handling the two cases that are last in line, Forrest Wegge of Jefferson County, said he's prepared for a lengthy wait.

"I'm not saying I'm willing to wait, but I'm not clamoring, either," he said. "It is what it is."

A number of factors could slow or speed up the Whiteside County cases.

Prosecutors — both from the Whiteside County State's Attorney's office and the Illinois attorney general's office — will need to decide whether to try Sheley in all five deaths there at once or try him separately in Reed's death. The others killed in the county — 29-year-old Brock Branson, 25-year-old Kenneth Ulve, 20-year-old Kilynna Blake and her 2-year-old son, Dayan — were found dead in a Rock Falls apartment.

Aside from Wegge, attorneys involved in the Sheley cases either declined to discuss them in detail or didn't return calls. And court officials in Whiteside County said prosecutors haven't yet filed anything that makes their intentions clear.

The search for a judge who doesn't know Sheley also could slow things down. The court agreed in August with a request from Sheley to remove first one judge and then a second. Sheley has an extensive criminal record and had appeared before both, leading him to believe neither could guarantee him a fair trial. A judge from Rock Island County, Ill., Jeffrey W. O'Connor, will handle Monday's arraignment, but a spokeswoman said it isn't clear yet whether he'll handle the cases.

Another hurdle is that Sheley doesn't yet have an attorney and, in June, indicated he would represent himself. In his Galesburg, Ill., trial, Sheley changed his mind more than once about whether to represent himself before finally relying on attorney Jeremy Karlin.

Karlin said last week that he could represent Sheley again but nothing has been decided. If a new attorney is chosen, it could take months for him or her to get up to speed.

Once a trial begins, some of the evidence that could be used against Sheley has already helped convince a jury he was guilty of killing Randall. Prosecutors have said clothing Sheley wore when he killed Randall was found in the Rock Falls apartment. Police have also said they found Sheley's DNA on a cigarette butt in Reed's kitchen. Sheley's wife has testified that Reed had previously let the two take scrap metal from his farm to sell.

Karlin, the defense attorney, called no witnesses in Sheley's first trial. University of Illinois law professor Steven Beckett said a defense attorney might take a similar, not-uncommon tactic in later trials.

"A defendant doesn't have to put on a defense," said Beckett, who has worked as a defense attorney in 16 murder cases. "The defendant can simply take the position that the government does not have enough evidence to meet a burden of proof."

When Sheley's legal path reaches Missouri, where he's charged with killing Jill and Tom Estes of Sherwood, Ark., he could face the death penalty. Illinois abolished the death penalty while Sheley awaited his first trial.

Wegge hasn't decided whether to pursue that option. But if he does, Beckett said, the outcome of the remaining cases in Illinois could become factors in Missouri.

"The jury is being told, 'Oh, by the way, he has seven other murder convictions' — that would have a heavy impact on a jury in deciding whether or not he receives the death penalty," Beckett said.

The Esteses were visiting Festus and it appeared they were attacked the moment they climbed from their Corvette after leaving a graduation party, police said. Police have said the Esteses' bodies were loaded into the pickup Sheley stole from Randall and driven away.

In the Esteses' Arkansas hometown, Sherwood, Tom Estes' 87-year-old mother, Mazie Estes, said waiting for any justice "is not easy," and "there's never a day that goes by I don't think of it." If Sheley is convicted of the Missouri killings, the long-retired manager of a shoe department said she's clear about what should happen.

"I'm for the Bible, an eye for an eye. That's the way it should go," she said. "I think this has taken way too long. I hope they get on with it as soon as they can, but they don't ever do anything the way we think."

 
 

Jury finds Sheley guilty of murder

By Jennifer Wheeler - Pjstar.com

September 20, 2011

GALESBURG — A Knox County jury found Nicholas Sheley guilty Monday of first-degree murder in the 2008 death of Ronald Randall.

After less than an hour of deliberations, an eight-man, four-woman jury found Sheley guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated vehicular hijacking and possession of a stolen motor vehicle. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 18.

After the verdict was read, Sheley tapped on defense attorney Jeremy Karlin’s arm, shook his hand and thanked him. He showed no emotion while the verdict was being read.

The verdict came after seven days of statements and testimony and eight days of jury selection. The defense did not call any witnesses nor did Sheley take the stand.

During closing arguments prosecuting attorney Mike Atterberry said Sheley was on the run from the law and needed two things: new transportation that would not be reported missing quickly and money.

“He had needs and he was hell-bent on satisfying those needs no matter what. And Ronald was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Atterberry said.

Atterberry asked the jurors to think about Sheley driving around in the victim’s truck with blood dripping from the cab. He said Randall was killed with a dangerous weapon that left traces of liquid blood in his truck days after he died.

Atterberry asked the jurors to consider why Sheley circled around a business’s parking lot when his current vehicle was on empty, why Sheley walked into the Hy-Vee gas station with blood on his face and why Sheley was seen wearing the victim’s flannel shirt. He said those facts are not “coincidences” but rather a trail of evidence explaining what occurred the night of the murder.

“The defendant needs to fear the facts because it’s the facts that are telling of this case,” Atterberry said. “… Who would drive around in a truck that smelled like blood for days? Only a killer.”

Karlin closed by saying the state did not provide conclusive evidence that proved his client guilty.

He said the DNA and fingerprints were not necessarily accurate, especially because witnesses could not name a single study that showed that everyone has unique physical traits. He said the prosecution did not focus on the science behind these procedures or how often their results are accurate.

“If they can’t tell you how often they get it wrong, they can’t tell you how often they get it right,” Karlin said.

Karlin also discussed whether the prosecution influenced witnesses in identifying Sheley. He said witnesses were able to identify Sheley simply because he was the man sitting at the defense table. Additionally, the witness who identified Sheley at Hy-Vee was provided a single photo by police of Sheley.

He also questioned Holly Sheley’s testimony since she received immunity for testifying. He inquired why she came forward a year after the incident when a newspaper article said her DNA was found in Randall’s truck.

Karlin ended closing arguments by asking the jury to look past what the community and media reports say about Sheley; they needed to base their decision on the evidence, which did not prove his client guilty.

Prosecuting attorney Bill Elward responded by touching on Sheley’s behavior after he killed Randall.

“He beat a man to death and went inside a store and bought beer,” Elward said.

He then showed the jury an enlarged photo of Sheley sitting on a bench in St. Louis with his arms extended and smoking a cigarette.

Elward concluded by telling the jury to consider three receipts: the $3 receipt from Mobil Mart to buy gas, the receipt from the Hy-Vee gas station where he bought beer and cigarettes and the guilty verdict they should sign.

Sheley also is charged with five slayings in Whiteside County and two in Festus, Mo. His arraignment in Whiteside County is scheduled for Sept. 26. There, he faces 25 counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Russell Reed, Brock Brandon, Kilynna Blake, her son Dayan, and Kenneth Ulve.

 
 

Alleged Mass Murderer Begins Trial Today

Nicholas Sheley Terrorized Missouri and Illinois

By Chad Garrison - Riverfronttimes.com

August 29, 2011

For a few gripping days in the summer of 2008, Nicholas Sheley kept Missouri and Illinois residents in a state of fear and paranoia.

The victims began piling up on June 26, when the body of a 93-year-old man was found in the trunk of his car in Sheley's hometown of Sterling in northwestern Illinois. Four days later, police found the bodies of a vacationing Arkansas couple, Jill and Tom Estes, beaten to death behind a gas station in Festus, Missouri.

That very same day -- June 30 -- produced for five more bodies. Ronald Randall of Galesburg, Illinois, was found dead behind a grocery store there. Then perhaps the gruesomest discovery of all: The bodies of Brock Branson, 29, Kenneth Ulve, 25, Kilynna Blake, 20, and her son Dayan Blake, 2, were all found in an apartment in Rock Falls, Illinois.

All eight people killed during the crime spree died from blunt force trauma to the head. Police issued warnings June 30 that Nicholas Sheley -- an ex-con with a violent past and drug problem -- was on the run and could be hiding out in metro St. Louis.

Turns out, he was.

Sheley had stepped outside a Granite City bar to have a smoke on July 1, when the TV inside the pub aired a photo of Sheley's mugshot in connection to the murders. Patrons exchanged worried glances and then reached for the phone and dialed 911.

Police arrived moments later and arrested Sheley without incident. Now, three years later, Sheley faces his first murder trial today for the killing of 65-year-old Ronald Randall.

Sheley has pleaded not guilty to all eight murders and has made news since his arrest for angry outbursts during court hearings. At trial this week, Sheley will wear a stun belt that will allow bailiffs to deliver an electric shock should he act up again in court.

 
 

Customers Spot Murder Suspect at Local Bar

By Jasmine Huda - Ksdk.com

July 1, 2008

KSDK -- Imagine sitting at a bar and the person next to you bears a striking resemblance to the man whose picture has been plastered all over the news, connected to a number of murders. For customers at Bindy's Bar in Granite City, there was no imagining.

Tuesday evening, customers did a double take when a man with blond hair and tattoos entered the establishment on Nameoki Road. That man was 28-year-old murder suspect Nicholas Sheley.

"I was looking, because I thought, I sort of had the image ingrained in my mind, of what this guy looked like, you know, and more and more, I thought, 'this really is him,'" said customer Gary Range.

Range and others had just watched the evening news at Bindy's when Sheley entered. At least two customers called police.

Authorities believe Sheley may be connected to eight recent murders in Missouri and Illinois.

Sheley is suspected in the murder of an elderly man in Whiteside, Illinois; the murder of Little Rock, Arkansas, couple Tom and Jill Estes in Festus, Missouri; the murder of Ronald Randall in Galesburg, Illinois; and the murder of three adults and one child in Rock Falls, Illinois, the FBI said. All eight victims were killed by blunt force trauma to the head.

Sheley is also wanted for home invasion in Sterling, Illinois, and on federal charges for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Earlier Tuesday, the Major Case Squad said up to 100 detectives were looking for Sheley.

For Samantha Butler, it was an "open mouth, insert foot" moment at Bindy's.

"I walked into the bar, and I said, 'They're really searching for that serial killer,"' she said. "And the bartender said, 'What does he look like?' And I said, 'Well, he's got blonde hair, and tattoos.' And I looked over, and he kept staring at me, and looked away and looking at his surroundings."

Sheley was arrested and taken to the Granite City Jail Tuesday evening.

Authorities said he will be incarcerated on a $1 million bond.

NewsChannel 5 spoke with a Washington, Missouri man who police think not only talked to him, but lent Sheley his cell phone.

The man said he and friends left the Cards-Mets game Monday night and went outside to tailgate.

"This guy walked up and he started talking to us," said the witness, who asked to remain anonymous. "He then he asked to borrow a cell phone so we gave him one."

The man made a call for 15 minutes.

"He gave the phone back and asked if we'd delete the phone numbers, so we did," the witness said. "We got in the truck and left."

But when the witness got home, there were four deputies waiting for him.

"The phone call that he made was to a drug house in the Kirkwood area," he said. "They had been watching that house, so they traced the phone call back to the cell phone that he had used and that's how they got my address."

Then the officers explained why they were trying to track Sheley down.

"They said that he's killed eight people," the witness said. "They didn't say how they knew that it was him that made the phone call, but they asked me what he looked like and I explained it to him and they said that I was dead on."

The witness' friend also identified Sheley, picking his mugshot from a line-up.

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Timeline According to the Galesburg Police Department

Tuesday, July 1, 1:30 p.m.

Knox County Prosecutors charged Nicholas Troy Sheley, 28, with first-degree murder, aggravated battery, aggravated vehicular hijacking and two counts of theft in connection to the death of Ronald Randall from Galesburg, Illinois.

Monday, July 1, 9:30 a.m.

An autopsy positively identified a body found behind a grocery store in Galesburg as Randall. Pathology reports listed the cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head.

Monday, June 30, 12:15 p.m.

Galesburg Police found a man's body behind a grocery store in Galesburg.

Monday, June 30, 9:33 a.m.

The Galesburg Police Department said On-Star helped they them find Randall's 2007 pick-up truck at Cherokee and 2nd St. in St. Louis. Police said no one was with the vehicle when it was found.

Monday, June 30, 8:38 a.m.

Family members told Galesburg Police Department they had not seen or spoken to Randall since Saturday. They filed a missing persons report with the department. Neighbors told police Randall was last seen driving a pick-up truck sometime Saturday evening.

Sunday, June 29, unknown time

Galesburg police found a stolen pick-up truck at a car wash in Galesburg. They said it had been taken during a burglary at a Rock Island, Illinois business.

Friday, June 26, unknown time

Illinois State Police and the Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center issued a warrant bulletin for Nicholas Sheley in connection to a home invasion. He was believed to be driving a stolen red Jeep.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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