T.J. Jimenez

Cook County sheriff’s office

‘Motive’ Episode 10: Mother’s Day

As we conclude this story, we find some answers about what motivates T.J. Jimenez — from T.J. himself.

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From the Sun-Times and WBEZ, "Motive" examines the life and trials of Thaddeus “T.J.” Jimenez.

We’ve reached the end of our story about Thaddeus Jimenez. He was a 13-year-old boy arrested for murder, exonerated after 16 years in prison and awarded millions of dollars.

With that money, T.J. could’ve done anything. Instead, he built a gang, unleashed chaos, shot a guy on video, and ended up back in jail.

And the big question is ... why? He’s left us some clues.

You can listen to “Motive” wherever you get your podcasts, includingApple Podcasts,Pocket Casts,Spotify, andStitcher.

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.

T.J.’s latest jail photo

T.J. Jimenez

T.J. Jimenez

Cook County sheriff’s office

Here’s what T.J. looks like now.

“Blu Crown Announcement”

In 2015, T.J. wrote a manifesto from jail — praising the still-loyal members of his gang crew and condemning those he called imposters. The letter was entered into evidence in his federal trial for illegal possession of the gun that he used to shoot Earl Casteel. T.J. was sentenced to more than nine years in prison in that federal case.

Cook County Jail

A man who escaped from Cook County Jail May 2, 2020, is in custody, authorities said Monday.

Sun-Times file photo

This is Division 9, a maximum-security facility inside the sprawling Cook County Jail complex on the Southwest Side. It’s where T.J. is currently housed as he awaits trial on attempted murder and aggravated battery charges in state court for shooting Earl. If you stand on the sidewalk outside Division 9, you can see the inmates pacing in the wide, fenced-in galleries in the center of the building.

“A Brief Bio”

Screen grab from YouTube video featuring T.J.


This is a still image from T.J.’s six-minute video called “A Brief Bio,” an autobiography of sorts that he produced and uploaded on YouTube. Here he’s loading a handgun. On the streets, T.J. called himself Batman. Note the Batman logo at the top left corner of this screenshot and the name of his gang, the Simon City Royals. In this video, he’s presenting the story of his comic-book alter ego — a gun-toting, gangland antihero.

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