Son slit ex-U of C prof’s throat in ‘savage’ murder in Hyde Park, prosecutors say in 1st day of trial

Matthew Luchins, 30, faces a count of first-degree murder in the May 2018 attack on his father, Dan.

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The George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

The George N Leighton Criminal Courthouse at 2650 S California Ave in Little Village, Monday, May 9, 2022.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

As a retired University of Chicago professor lay bleeding from multiple stab wounds on the floor of his Hyde Park home four years ago, his son knelt by his side and drew a large kitchen knife across his father’s throat, a neighbor of the family testified Tuesday. 

“It’s done,” Ian Jackson recalled Matthew Luchins saying matter-of-factly afterward during the first day of his trial in the May 2, 2018 murder Tuesday. 

Jackson and his wife were living in a unit across the hall from the family when they awoke to a woman screaming in the early morning hours that day. 

They found Matthew Luchins’ mother, Catherine Luchins, spattered in blood in the condo building’s common fourth-floor hallway. 

Through the open doorway of her home, Jackson said he could hear her husband, Dan Luchins, screaming, “No! Matt! Stop!”

When Jackson entered the Luchinses’ condo, he watched as Matthew Luchins got down beside his father and plunged a large knife into the older man’s abdomen, stood and knelt down again, drawing the knife over his father’s neck. 

Dan Luchins, 69, was found dead with the knife buried in his chest and his body covered in more than 30 stab wounds, Cook County prosecutors said in the bench trial before Judge James Obbish. 

“What happened in that apartment was savage, cruel, and what also was first-degree murder,” Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Pekara told Obbish in his opening statement. 

Matthew Luchins’ arrest photo in 2018.

Matthew Luchins’ arrest photo in 2018.

Chicago police

Luchins was taken into custody at the scene and later charged with first-degree murder in his father’s death. He’s been held without bail at the Cook County Jail since his initial hearing and could face a life sentence if convicted.

Luchins’ defense attorneys are expected to argue that he killed his father in a fit of psychosis brought on by a substance that was laced in a marijuana edible he consumed when the trial resumes Monday. 

If the judge believes Luchins was in such a state, he could find him guilty of second-degree murder instead of first-degree murder, which carries a lower sentence of between four and 20 years in prison. 

In earlier testimony, Luchins’ mother said her son came home that evening in a highly agitated state, “lumbering” around the apartment in a “Frankenstein-like” manner before taking a knife from a butcher’s block in the kitchen and repeatedly stabbing his father as he lay in bed. 

Catherine Luchins, a retired physician, told the judge that as the couple was trying to calm him down, she held her son’s wrist and felt his pulse racing. 

“It was going so fast I really couldn’t count it,” she testified. 

Dan Luchins was a former president of the Illinois Psychiatric Society and an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Chicago for 25 years before he retired from teaching, the school said in a statement after his death.

After leaving the university, Dan Luchins went on to treat veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder as a staff psychiatrist at the Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Catherine Luchins testified her husband and son were close and had a good relationship. 

Just before the murder, Matthew Luchins had hired a photographer and spent more than a year documenting his father’s woodworking projects. 

Matthew Luchins “and the photographer and Dan spent hours setting up the pictures,” Catherine Luchins said. 

It was intended to be a gift for his father’s upcoming 70th birthday, Catherine Luchins said.

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