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Man gets 40 years for killing friend, hiding body in closet

Bednago Harper | Cook County sheriff's office

A man was sentenced to 40 years in prison Thursday for stabbing his friend to death with a wood carving tool and then hiding the body inside a closet of his Oakland neighborhood apartment in 2011 on the South Side.

Bednago Harper, 52, was convicted of first-degree murder and concealment of a homicidal death for the Nov. 4, 2011, attack in his home in the 4000 block of South Lake Park Avenue, according to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

Harper got into a fight with 39-year-old Jermaine Reynolds because he thought the younger man had taken his unemployment card, prosecutors said at Harper’s initial bond hearing.

He then used an awl — a carving tool that looks like an ice pick — to stab Reynolds about 50 times, puncturing his skull and brain, prosecutors said.

Harper then took the man’s cellphone and keys, dragged the body into a closet and covered it with sheets, according to prosecutors, who said Reynolds was a friend who often sold Harper crack cocaine.

Three days later, painters working in the building called authorities after noticing a foul smell coming from the apartment, and a building manager found Reynolds’ decomposing body inside. He lived in the 1800 block of South Drake.

Investigators found the awl, and Harper later gave a full confession, prosecutors said.

Harper had been held at the Cook County Jail without bond since being charged a week after the killing. Judge Stanley Sacks handed down the 40-year sentence Thursday.