The Kristina Wesselman DNA case has taken a twisted turn after more than three decades after the body of a slain Glen Ellyn teen was found in a DuPage County field just blocks from her home. A downstate man is now behind bars and charged with her murder, according to ABC Chicago.
Michael R. Jones, 62, of Champaign faces two counts of murder and one count of aggravated criminal sexual assault stemming from the July 21, 2021 killing of 15-year-old Kristina Wesselman, DuPage County Sheriff John Zaruba said.
Authorities say Kristina was sexually assaulted and stabbed to death in broad daylight while walking home from a grocery store near the intersection of Butterfield Road and Route 53. The Glenbard South High School student was last seen on a well-traveled path near her residence but never made it home and was reported missing by her mother, sheriff’s police said. Her body was found hours later by sheriff’s detectives in a nearby field.
The 30-year-old Kristina Wesselman DNA case broke Sept. 10, when sheriff’s police say they obtained “new information” regarding the murder. Detectives investigated the new information and located Jones, authorities said. A search warrant was conducted at his Champaign address on Friday, police said, and Jones was arrested Sunday.
Nobody answered the door at Jones’ home in Champaign on Sunday.
Sheriff’s police did not immediately disclose the nature of the new information or any evidence linking Jones to the murder. A sheriff’s spokesman said additional details could be released Monday morning, when Jones makes his first court appearance.
However, Champaign County court records indicate Jones was required to give blood, saliva or tissue samples and ordered to pay a fee for DNA analysis after he pleaded guilty July 2 to a felony domestic battery charge.
Under state law, anyone convicted of a felony is required to give a blood, saliva or tissue sample to Illinois State Police. Those samples can be tested for links to unsolved crimes.
In 2000, DuPage sheriff’s investigators expressed optimism that DNA evidence might one day reveal Kristina’s killer. Authorities said at the time that genetic material from the suspected killer was left at the crime scene, and the sheriff’s crime lab was analyzing evidence gathered from the field where Kristina’s body was located to see if DNA could be extracted.
Four years ago, in an effort to reinvigorate their investigation, authorities for the first time disclosed that they believed Kristina’s killer removed a pearl ring from her body after the slaying.
“Since the date of the tragic murder, the case has remained open and active,” Zaruba said Sunday in a news release announcing Jones’ arrest. “Over the last 30 years the sheriff’s Cold Case Unit has worked hundreds of leads that have sent them across the nation, and thousands of man hours have been spent to catch the killer in this horrendous crime.
“The work of the members of my detective division, coupled with the assistance of the Champaign Police Department and the Champaign County Probation Department during the capture of Michael R. Jones, has made it possible for us to bring this 1985 shocking case to a successful conclusion,” he added. “I cannot say enough about the professionalism and dedication of the investigators over the past 30 years who have worked this case and their work will now bring closure for the Wesselman family and the residents of Unincorporated Milton Township with the arrest and prosecution of the suspect.”
Contacted at her Lake County home Sunday, Kristina’s sister declined to comment on the arrest. Other family members could not be reached or declined to comment.
Jones is being held in the DuPage County jail without bail pending.
The case remains under investigation. authorities said. Anyone with information regarding the Kristina Wesselman DNA case or any other that may have involved Michael R. Jones is asked to call the DuPage County sheriff’s office at (630) 407-2400.