Dan Young, Jr.

Torture — and a tortured crime theory

The partially nude body of Kathy Morgan, 39, was found in a burning building on the south side of Chicago on October 14, 1990. She had been raped, strangled, doused with gasoline, and set afire.

Seventeen months later, Chicago Police Detectives Kenneth Boudreau and John Halloran obtained a confession from young man named Peter Williams, who said he committed the crime with Harold Hill and Dan Young Jr., who also promptly confessed to Boudreau and Halloran. Hill and Young implicated each other, as well as Williams. All three said they all had raped Morgan. Soon after prosecutors obtained indictments against the trio, however, a problem came light — Williams had been in jail when the crime occurred. The case against him had to be abandoned, but prosecutors proceeded against Hill and Young.

Hill, who had been only 16 at the time of the crime, was tried as an adult jointly with Young, who had been 31. Judge Thomas Durkin denied defense motions to suppress the confessions, even though they obviously were partly false, in light of Williams's alibi, and even though Young had an IQ of only 56 and could not have understood a Miranda warning. Separate juries were impaneled because the confession of each was inadmissible against the other. In addition to introducing the confessions, prosecutors called a self-styled forensic odontologist, Dr. John Kenney, who linked a bruise and a bite mark on Morgan's body to Hill and Young. The juries found both defendants guilty. Durkin sentenced them to life in prison without parole.

In 2004, after the convictions had been affirmed on appeal, DNA tests established that hairs found at the murder scene and cellular material found under Morgan's fingernails could not have come from either Hill or Young. Prosecutors argued in response that the hairs were unrelated to the crime and that the cellular material could have come from sweat or drool left by police or paramedics. In February 2005, however, prosecutors abandoned those seemingly far-fetched contentions and agreed to dismiss the charges, freeing Hill and Young, neither of whom had prior records. Fourteen months later, Young was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Chicago.

— Rob Warden