T.J. gets arrested for murder and is sent to the Audy Home, the juvenile detention center in Chicago. We see young T.J. through the eyes of a Catholic priest, Father David Kelly, and a then-journalism student, Carolyn Nielsen, who covered T.J.’s trial in 1994. A 14-year-old boy is tried as an adult for murder.
Motive extra features
Get a look at the real-life people and places covered in this episode of “Motive.” Meet T.J., his mother Victoria and the family members, friends and lawyers who tell his story.
Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center
Also known as the Audy Home, the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center became T.J.’s new home after he was arrested for murder. Cook County has the country’s oldest juvenile court system, founded in 1899.
Father David Kelly
Father David Kelly of the Precious Blood Ministry, which serves at-risk youth, met T.J. while he was held at the Audy Home, the juvenile detention center in Chicago. Kelly, a Roman Catholic priest, has ministered to thousands of kids who were locked up, but says T.J. always stood out to him. He remembers T.J. as an engaging, articulate kid whom he met with once a week.
Carolyn Nielsen covered T.J.’s case while earning her master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University. She’s now an associate professor at Western Washington University’s Department of Journalism.
Probation letter recommending T.J. be tried as an adult
A probation officer was assigned to T.J. because of his numerous arrests as a kid. After T.J. was charged with murder at age 13, the probation officer recommended to a juvenile judge that T.J.’s case be transferred to adult court. The officer wanted to keep T.J. off the streets for a long, long time.
T.J.’s letters to Elizabeth Heatley
T.J.’s letters to his then-girlfriend offer a glimpse into his life in the Audy Home and his mental state at the time. Prosecutors in T.J.’s murder case cited the letters to Elizabeth as evidence that T.J. was directing the Simon City Royals street gang to keep Larry Tueffel from testifying against him — even if they had to kill Larry.
In the above letter to Elizabeth, T.J. writes, “It looks like I’ll have to kill him [Larry] myself since the Royals won’t.”
In the above letter, T.J. worries about his safety in juvenile jail and he comments on the perfumed letter he received from Elizabeth.