Follow @MaryMitchellCSTSPRINGFIELD — Brandon Marshall Todd was 14 years old when his older sister, Traci Todd, was brutally murdered in 2000.
The United Airlines flight attendant had been missing for three months when pieces of her charred remains were found scattered in Cook County Forest Preserve’s Beaubien Woods.
In July, the man convicted for the grisly crime, Kevin Williams, filed a clemency petition, forcing the murdered woman’s family to re-live the nightmare.
Williams is serving a 65-year sentence at the Pontiac Correctional Center.
Brandon Todd was among a dozen family and friends who went to Springfield on Wednesday to oppose the clemency petition.
Now a firefighter in Atlanta, Todd expressed the horror he still feels over how Williams tried to dispose of his sister’s body.
“Traci had a deadly fear of fire, and for Kevin to commit this act shows a psychosis and the fact that he wanted to shame her and embarrass her,” the brother told the panel.
“For him to come back and try to get clemency, it is really something I can’t understand.”
Williams did not appear at the hearing, and no one spoke on his behalf.
Mark A. Shlifka, executive assistant state’s attorney, dismissed Williams’ legal arguments as fabrications.
In the petition Williams accused law enforcement of coercing witnesses to lie and of unlawfully detaining him in connection with Todd’s murder. He also claimed a Chicago Police officer had information that would prove someone else murdered Todd.
“Ironically, the police officer that Kevin refers to . . . is a disgraced police officer who pled guilty to extorting drug dealers. There is no merit here,” Shlifka said.
Ernest Todd, Traci’s father, told the panel that if Williams were innocent, it wouldn’t have taken them three months to find his daughter’s body.
“We were not sure whether she was dead or whether she was alive,” he said.
“The fact that her body was cut up . . . that they put her body next to the city dump. I can’t tell you how that made us feel,” said the father, struggling to control his emotions.
“I hated to take my family through this again, but I had to do it,” he said, adding that he believed Williams should serve the entire 65-year sentence.
Lisa Todd, Traci’s older sister, mopped a steady stream of tears throughout the proceeding. It was Lisa’s advocacy that forced the police and media to pay attention to Traci’s disappearance.
Her testimony on Wednesday could serve as a warning for other successful women who get swept off their feet by savvy but mysterious men.
“He really fooled us. We called him ‘Mr. Wonderful.’ We thought Traci had found the love of her life,” she said. “But Kevin was so conniving. . . . He tricked us into believing he was someone that he wasn’t. He ended up a monster, and he doesn’t deserve ever to come out of jail,” she said.
Members of the Prisoner Review Board asked only a couple of questions, and the hearing lasted less than an hour.
The board will make its recommendation to Gov. Bruce Rauner, but there is no timetable for when the governor has to act.
Still, it was important for Traci’s family and friends to show up, the chairman told them.
“This case has touched a great many people. We’ve had a number of letters from people — friends and family — but also people who never met Traci but were so touched by her life and your loss,” he said.
After the hearing, family and friends gathered outside the hearing room. Some hugged. Some cried. There was also sighs of relief.
“I just don’t feel like there is a chance for him to get out. It is just the rehashing of it. It was a very bad period in our lives,” Ernest Todd said.