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Man killed girlfriend and her family members after she refused to cook, braid his hair, prosecutors say

John Matthews faces three counts of murder in the shooting of his girlfriend, her mother and sister in front of his Gresham home.

The Leighton Criminal Courthouse.
John Matthews was taken into custody on Aug. 3 in Iowa after a car he was a passenger was involved in a crash, prosecutors said. He was extradited to Cook County this week to face murder charges.
Sun-Times file

A Gresham man killed his girlfriend, her mother and older sister in a fit of rage after she refused to cook for him and braid his hair, Cook County prosecutors said Friday.

Shonta Harris had brought her and John Matthews’ son to Matthews’ house, in the 8600 block of South Wood Street, to celebrate Father’s Day June 22.

When Harris, 24, told Matthew she wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t up to fixing a meal or working on his hair, an irate Matthews responded by punching her in the face and berating her while following her around the house, prosecutors said

Matthews’ grandmother eventually took Harris outside so she could get away from him. But 25-year-old Matthews followed the pair and smashed Harris’ cellphone when she tried to call her mother to come pick her and the couple’s son up, prosecutors said.

Matthews’ grandmother then let Harris use her cellphone to call her family. Harris’ mother and sister, Frances and Jasmine Neal, arrived shortly after.

John Matthews
John Matthews
Chicago police

Harris tried to leave, but the couple’s son was still inside the house and Matthews refused to let her take the baby, leading Jasmine Neal to call 911, prosecutors said. Jasmine Neal told the dispatcher that Harris’ eye was injured from Matthews’ earlier assault, prosecutors said.

Then, as Harris and her family stood in the front of the home, Matthews allegedly pulled out a pistol from his waistband and shot Frances Neal multiple times before turning the gun on Harris, who he shot in the shoulder.

A female motorist stopped at a red light nearby heard the shots and saw a screaming Jasmine Neal run into the street as Matthews chased her and shot her in the side of her head, prosecutors said.

Matthews’ grandmother immediately called police and identified him as the shooter during the 911 call and when officers arrived at the scene, prosecutors said.

By that time, Matthews, who ran off through a gangway, was gone.

Frances Neal, 56, and Jasmine Neal, 27, were pronounced dead at the scene.

Harris — who also identified Matthews as the shooter in a video-recorded statement from a hospital bed — initially survived the attack. But a bullet fragment fractured her spine and left her lower body paralyzed, prosecutors said. When Harris was moved to a rehabilitation facility, her condition later worsened, leading to her death on Sept. 5.

Matthews was taken into custody on Aug. 3 in Iowa after a car he was a passenger in was involved in a crash, prosecutors said.

He was extradited to Cook County this week to face murder charges.

Matthews has no criminal background and most recently worked for Amazon, an assistant public defender said.

Matthews, against the advice of his lawyer, spoke in court Friday.

“Let me just see my family,” he said.

Judge Charles Beach, who ordered Matthews held without bail, denied the request.

Matthews is expected back in court Nov. 30.