The estranged daughter-in-law of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has been charged in connection with covering up the grisly murder of a woman inside a home in suburban Atlanta, authorities say.
Ronisha Preckwinkle, 40, was arrested July 10 and charged with murder, tampering with evidence and false imprisonment in connection with the attack that happened at an apartment in Stockbridge, a southeast suburb of Atlanta, according to police and prosecutors in Henry County, Georgia.
She is married to Kyle Preckwinkle, Toni Preckwinkle’s son. The couple lived with their children in a Hyde Park condominium where Chicago police were repeatedly called to domestic disturbance calls in 2018 and 2019, the Chicago Sun-Times previously reported.
The couple separated earlier this year, but Kyle Preckwinkle defended his estranged wife against charges he called “preposterous.”
“We look forward to these baseless charges being dropped,” he said Thursday.
Through a spokesman, Toni Preckwinkle declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
In the warrant for her arrest, Ronisha Preckwinkle’s home address is listed at the Georgia complex where she and another man allegedly helped Dennis Lane carry out the disturbing July 8 attack on 23-year-old Mirsha Victor. Kyle Preckwinkle said that’s not where his wife was living.
Lane — a recently paroled registered sex offender in Illinois — is also charged with necrophilia and felony murder. Police say they’re probing for his possible connection to other killings, too.
The warrant alleges that video evidence on Lane’s cellphone shows the 41-year-old killed and raped Victor, who was bound with an extension cord, according to the arrest warrant for Lane. Additional evidence from “other possible murders” was also found in the apartment.
Ronisha Preckwinkle was inside the home when the attack happened and afterward she allegedly “removed bagged concealed items from the residence into a vehicle,” according to her arrest warrant. Preckwinkle’s private defense attorney could not be reached for comment.
The other alleged accomplice — Lane’s brother, 40-year-old Cleounsee Fisher — was there, too, and he is accused of helping get rid of a mattress, according to his warrant. They’re both accused of helping Lane dispose of the body.
Police noticed the bloody mattress in a dumpster across the street from the apartment the next day, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Officers had been called there by the victim’s mother, who had reported Victor missing.
Lane, who worked with Victor, had allegedly used her cellphone to invite the victim’s mother to meet at his apartment, insisting “he was not a bad guy,” according to a Henry County police report. After spotting the mattress, investigators got a search warrant and found blood on the bathroom floor inside, the report says.
Victor’s body was found two weeks later in a wooded area barely half a mile away, along with the body of another young woman. Lane has been charged with her murder as well. Ronisha Preckwinkle is not accused in that case.
Lane could be connected to additional crimes as the investigation is “still active and ongoing,” Henry County Police Capt. Randy Lee said in an email.
In 2000, Lane was convicted of predatory criminal sexual assault in Kankakee County and sentenced to 20 years in prison. His victim was 10 years old, according to the Illinois State Police.
Lane was put on parole in May 2019, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections. He also served a two-year sentence for aggravated battery causing great bodily harm in downstate Perry County.
Neighbors in the Atlanta suburb told WSB-TV Atlanta that Lane and his brother had moved in to the Stockbridge complex about a year earlier from the Chicago area.
Ronisha Preckwinkle’s possible connection to them is unclear. Her husband, who said they separated in January, declined to comment on whether he was familiar with the other men.
“Where’s the evidence?” Kyle Preckwinkle said in a phone interview. “My wife of 16 years, the mother of three children, undoubtedly had nothing to do with the kidnapping and murder of two young girls.”
Their children are with him, Kyle Preckwinkle said.
Chicago police were called to the condo they shared in the 5100 block of South Cornell Drive eight times between January 2018 and March 2019, the Sun-Times previously reported.
In a February 2019 call, police were dispatched for a heated dispute between Ronisha Preckwinkle and a female resident. None of the calls resulted in an arrest.
Preckwinkle, Lane and Fisher all remain jailed in McDonough, Georgia, with a court date next month.