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Mom weeps as accused killer of her little girl appears in court

Willie Randolph | Mug shot

When the accused killer of her daughter stepped into a Markham courtroom Thursday, Theresa Matthews wept.

Willie Randolph, 58, was ordered held without bond on a murder charge in the 1991 rape and fatal shooting of 14-year-old Cateresa Matthews in south suburban Dixmoor. Five teens, known as the “Dixmoor Five,” were wrongfully convicted in the case and were exonerated only after DNA evidence connected Randolph to the crime in 2011. DNA tests in the early 1990s had found no link to any of the teenagers, but they were convicted based on what they now say were confessions coerced by the police.

In court Thursday, Ron Burge, a former police chief of Dixmoor, put a hand on Theresa Matthews’ shoulder as she sobbed, while Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Tom Biesty laid out the case against Randolph, a convicted rapist and career criminal.

Theresa Matthews’ daughter, Cateresa, was raped and murdered in 1991. Willie Randolph was ordered held without bond Thursday in Markham court. | Leslie Adkins/For the Sun-Times
Theresa Matthews’ daughter, Cateresa, was raped and murdered in 1991. Willie Randolph was ordered held without bond Thursday in Markham court. | Leslie Adkins/For the Sun-Times

Biesty told Judge Tommy Brewer that Randolph kidnapped Cateresa at a bus stop, raped her and shot her in the mouth as she begged for her life in a field near Interstate 57. She was going home to Harvey after having dinner with her grandmother. She called her mother at 3:30 p.m. and said she was on her way. Her mother called police at 7 p.m. that night when she didn’t come home.

Theresa Matthews dropped her head in her hands when Biesty told the court that Randolph, who was in prison for drug possession earlier this year, boasted to other inmates that he killed Cateresa with a .25-caliber pistol. A bullet casing of the same caliber was found under her half-naked body.

Randolph also told the inmates that he was worried about a woman he raped in 1977 when she was just 13 years old. He vowed to kill her when he got out of prison to shut her up, Biesty said.

He feared the woman, now in her 50s, would tell her story to authorities — and she did, Biesty said. She said Randolph raped her in a field near I-57. Later, she gave birth to his child when she was 14, Biesty said.

After court, Matthews told reporters, “I want justice to be served.”

“It’s been two decades and a half, and she hasn’t rested in peace,” she said of Cateresa.

In 2014, when Burge was a top cop in Dixmoor, he called Sheriff Tom Dart to ask him to reinvestigate the murder of Cateresa, whom he knew as a family friend. The new probe led to the charge Thursday against Randolph.

As Randolph was escorted from court in blue jail clothes, he seemed to stare down Matthews.

Robert Taylor, one of the Dixmoor 5, attended the bond hearing of Willie Randolph Thursday at Cook County court in Markham. | Frank Main/Sun-Times
Robert Taylor, one of the Dixmoor 5, attended the bond hearing of Willie Randolph Thursday at Cook County court in Markham. | Frank Main/Sun-Times

Also watching in the courtroom gallery Thursday was Robert Taylor, one of the five teenagers wrongfully convicted of the notorious crime. The Dixmoor Five later obtained a $40 million legal settlement from the state police, the lead investigative agency in the case.

Taylor said he remains bitter for serving 20 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit.

“All my dreams, that’s over with,” he said.

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