Alan Beaman

After a blog that I wrote a few weeks ago (Jamie Snow) and the one I did earlier today (David Hendrick), I have to ask myself..."Self... what the hell is going on in McLean County Illinois?"  As I said in my previous blog today after I had blogged about the Jamie Snow case someone commented telling me of some others to look into.  Quite often I look at cases that have been reversed or in some way, at least in my opinion, have been decided in a way in which I question the evidence or the legalities of things.  Of course this is not the situation in all the cases that I blog about but it is those that are most interesting to me.  

Sometimes, such as the case of Drew Peterson, I completely agree with where he is at (i.e. prison) and totally believe that he is guilty. However, that was a case that I fear the laws made to get the evidence they needed to convict him could come back and bite innocent people.  The fact that his case is also in Illinois may or may not be a coincidence.  

The biggest city in McLean County is apparently Bloomington, which is most often discussed because it is a college "city." However, it seems that the town of Normal is right there also.  A reader familiar with the area can verify but I picture it being like many of the areas in Indiana where unless you live there you don't know where the "line" is to separate the two.  The other two cases I recently blogged about from the area were mainly based in Bloomington, but again, Normal was mentioned a few times.  This case is all but the opposite.  It is Normal that is discussed most, as that is where the victim lived and died, and Bloomington is only discussed as many of the people involved in the case, including the victim, went to college in Bloomington.  I sometimes feel confused trying to keep it all straight.  That being said.... on with our story.

On August 28, 1993 the body of 22 year old Jennifer Lockmiller was found in her Normal Illinois apartment.  A cord to an alarm clock was around her neck, a box fan was placed on her face, her pants and underwear had been pulled down and her upper under garments were pulled up.  She had obviously been strangled and sexually assaulted, but apparently her cause of death came from being stabbed by scissors in the chest.  After an autopsy was done and things were looked at it was determined that she had likely died on August 25th, sometime near or just after the noon hour.  Now they just had to figure out who did it.

Several people ended up on their radar pretty early on and it seems that all were current or former boyfriends of Jennifer's.  Initially right out the gate investigators were looking at four men; Michael Swain, Jennifer's current boyfriend, Stacey Gates and Alan Beaman, former boyfriends and another man who has never been identified beyond "John Doe."  I am completely bewildered when it comes to John Doe.  Of course I have seen cases in which someone is referred to in court documents and what not by initials (although admittedly that is usually a minor), and I have seen books or movies based on true stories in which a name is purposely changed but I have never seen a case in which a suspect, who is known to the police is never named.  Additionally, the kicker here is that not only has it been said publicly that John Doe actually had more of a motive, more opportunity and a more extensive criminal record than the other.  To add even more to that, of the four men John Doe had no alibi for the time in which it is thought Jennifer was killed.  I should be clear here before I go any further.  In 2012 additional DNA testing was done on the evidence in this case, including the semen found on Jennifer's body. Results returned with matches to two unknown males and all four of these men had been tested.  The theory now in place is that the contributors of the semen DNA were her murderers but again, that was not discovered until 2012.

At any rate, Swain and Gates apparently had solid, easy to confirm alibi's and were quickly off the radar.  Although I do question this only because by all accounts Swain was her current boyfriend and he had items in her home indicating that they were living together so one has to wonder why she was not found for three days.  But, it does appear that Jennifer was rather quick to move from one boyfriend to another.  She and Beaman had just broken up the month prior, but she was already seeing Swain and in his interviews John Doe, who had previously dated her, indicated to investigators that they were in the process of getting back together despite he too having a girlfriend.  In fact, in one of his interviews John Doe claims, and apparently his girlfriend confirmed, that they were together from about 1 pm to 4 pm on the day of the murder.  That still left the crucial noon hour unaccounted for though. Then again, this was after John Doe had previously told investigators that he had left town on the 24th only to say later he did not leave until about 4 pm on the 25th.  John Doe was asked to take a lie detector test (I so no reference that any of the others were asked) but reports state that it could not be started because, in the words of the man running the detector, John Doe was not following direction and compliant.  He would later say that he felt that it was a deliberate attempt to get out of taking the test.  He was asked to try again but he failed to do so.  Again, I want to point out the DNA results in 2012 seem to have cleared John Doe but this is very important to this case.  John Doe would claim that he had sold drugs to Jennifer and Michael Swain and that she owed him money.  He would also have charges brought against him for domestic violence from other girlfriends both before and after Jennifer's murder.  

I tell you all of this about John Doe, even though we do not know his name, because these are the things that investigators in Normal knew or gathered during their investigation.  They turned that information over to the prosecutors, James Souk and Charles Reynard.  Both Souk and Reynard would later become McLean County Circuit Court judges eventually. What did not happen with the information about John Doe was it all make it to the defense attorneys who would represent Alan Beaman in a March 1995 trial.

So how did investigators determine that Alan Beaman was their man?  Well, apparently they did that much like the investigators in the other cases I have researched from this county, the pulled it out of thin air!  Alan Beaman and Jennifer Lockmiller started dating in July of 1992 but over the course of the next year they seemed to break up and get back together several times.  Beaman admitted to police, and in court that he had actually broken into Jennifer's apartment on two occasions.  The first was when he believed, and was correct that she was with "John Doe" (who obviously he knew), inside.  He admitted that words were exchanged between the three and that he had gotten something that belonged to him and left.  The second time was in July of 1992, when again he believed she was with someone else, this time Michael Swain.  Again he admits that words were exchanged but there was nothing physical.  I am uncertain if the police were called on either of these occasions or if this became known by other means.  At any rate according to Beaman at this point he considered the relationship to be over.  He would claim that the last time he saw Jennifer was on August 4th.  He had given her a ride to school and he had then moved to his mother's home in Rockford Illinois, some 130 miles away from Normal.  He does admit that he had talked to Jennifer a few times and that she had attempted to rekindle their relationship but he was not interested.

So, at the time of her murder Alan Beaman was living and working in Rockford.  He was working a third shift job at a grocery store owned by his uncle.  When investigators reached him to interview him they had not told him of Jennifer's death as of yet and asked him of his whereabouts between August 23rd and August 29th.  An investigator would claim later that when Beaman was asked about his timeline he immediately brought up that he had been at a church music rehearsal on August 25th, and then he went back starting with the 23rd. The investigator found this suspicious and apparently so did the prosecutor as he mentioned it in trial.  The defense attempted to explain it away saying that of the days mentioned the 25th had stuck out to Beaman because aside from rather more routine things it was the only day that really stuck out of things that he had done.  

Beaman would claim that he had gotten off work at 9 am on August 25th and that he had gone home for a short while.  He then later went to the bank.  A video camera caught him leaving the bank at 10:11 am.  Beaman stated he then went back home, straight from the bank.  Phone records for Beaman's mom's home showed that at 10:37 am and 10:39 am two calls were made from the home to the music director of the church, first at the church then at the director's home.  Phone records also showed that the director had called the home at 10:22 am, presumably while Beaman was coming home from the bank. Beaman himself had not personally remembered making the calls, nor did the director later specifically remember talking to Beaman on that day.  What the director did know was that he had never talked to Beaman's mom on the phone and it was not unusual to check in to make sure rehearsal time was ok.  For her part Beaman's mom could not have made the call to the director even if she wanted to as she was not home to make the call despite the prosecutions attempts to make the jury think differently.  His mother would say that she returned home at approximately 2:15 pm and his car was in the driveway.  Beaman was apparently in his room sleeping (remember, he worked third shift the night before), and she woke him up for dinner around 6 pm.  

This meant for prosecutors Beaman had from about 10:40 am to 2:15 pm to drive the approximately 130 miles to Normal to Jennifer's apartment, kill her, leave little evidence, not be seen, drive the 130 miles back to Rockford and be home and in bed by the time his mother arrived home.  Oh, and leave no blood or evidence in his car or on his person.  One of the investigators from the police department would claim that the route had been test driven and it could have been done if he sped at least 10 miles over the speed limit the entire way.  Of course this is the same officer who told the jury that there was no way that Beaman made the calls to the church music director because he had calculated his route home from the bank and there was no way he would have made it home in time.  He would claim to the jury that it was the most direct route.  The officer obviously was not from Rockford or lived there so it is reasonable to believe that a resident would know other routes, of which apparently Beaman was not asked.  In addition to that the officer had calculated the route from a local Wal-Mart store to the Beaman home because Beaman's mother had a receipt from her check out there.  Despite the fact that his mother had more receipts from other places and had not returned home directly from Wal-Mart, this officer calculated that she could have made it home in time to make the phone calls to the music director.  The point the officer was making, or was trying to make it seemed was to eliminate the phone calls from the equation so that it gave Beaman even more time to get to and from Normal on that day.  

Fingerprints were apparently taken from the items around, or at least the alarm clock in which it's cord was wrapped around Jennifer's neck. Two prints belonged to Beaman, four belonged to Michael Swain and one was unidentified.  Beaman had openly admitted using the alarm often while spending the night at Jennifer's home.  I found no other information that any other prints or forensics were found beyond the semen that was found and tested many years later.  To be fair, had the semen been tested, in my opinion if it was a match to Michael Swain, or even John Doe who was saying that he and Jennifer were discussing getting back together, it would not have meant anything.  Had there been a match to Beaman that would have obviously been a wrench in his story.  I can only assume that the testing was not done, or done with conclusive results until they were released in 2012.  

In the end it seems the jury was convinced that Alan Beaman had been able to make the trip from Rockford to Normal, kill Jennifer, leave little to no evidence and make it back to Rockford in less than four hours (no matter when you have him leaving) because they convicted him on his murder charges.  He was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

Beaman and his lawyers did the customary appeals that start out in local courts and for the next few years the conviction was upheld.  Then in 2008 the Illinois Supreme Court heard the case and in their words called the trial "tenuous" (i.e. weak).  It had also been discovered by that point that while the prosecutors had casually mentioned John Doe to the defense, they had not given all the information they had on him.  To add to that, the defense had discussed in court about the idea of discussing other suspects and the prosecution assured the judge that all other suspects had been sufficiently cleared.  To this end the judge did not allow the defense to mention any other suspects in the trial.  It had now been discovered that John Doe not only did not have an alibi for the time of the murder, which had now been given a range of between noon and 2 pm,  but he also had a record of domestic violence.  At the trial prosecutors said that every other suspect they had spoken to had a solid alibi, that of course was not true.  They failed to mention that John Doe could not account for his whereabouts, that he lived a mile and a half away from Jennifer's apartment or that he had claimed Jennifer owed him money.  

The appeals court also looked into the testimony of Officer Tim Freesmeyer. He was the officer that testified about the time it took to get from place to place that day.  Beaman's parents had gotten him a new lawyer who later went to work for the Illinois Innocence Project but continued with his case.  There was an investigator there that did some time testing of his own.  First, Beaman had never been asked which route he had taken home fro the bank and the route that Freesmeyer timed was not the route, or the fastest, as he claimed at trial.  Investigators were able to discover that the route Beaman did take was in fact faster than the other route.  This was important because according to Freesmeyer, even if Beaman did go home after the bank as he stated he had he could not have made it home in time to make the calls to the church music director.  The new investigator had proven this. Additionally, Freesmeyer had stated he had also calculated how much time it would take to get from the local Wal-Mart to the Beaman home.  Freesmeyer's theory was, despite her denials, that Beaman's mother had come home after Wal-Mart and it was she who took the calls.  She had a receipt with a time stamp on it from the store.  According to Freesmeyer at trial she had time to get to her car, get home and make the calls at 10:37 and 10:39.  The new investigator also checked this route and according to his investigation even if Freesmeyer's theory was true Beaman's mom would still not have made it home in time for the calls.  The evidence at trial concerning the calls determine that only Beaman or his mother could have made them.  The funny thing about Freesmeyer, well, not funny per se, is that in order to make the prosecution theory work he had Beaman speeding all the way to and from Normal that day but had the routes from the bank and Wal-Mart going speed limit and with the flow of traffic.  I find this interesting because according to Beaman's mother she had left the house at 7:00 in the morning to pick her mother up for a doctor's appointment and then did shopping the rest of the day.  She was not on any kind of time limit or schedule.  Beaman would have had no idea when she was getting home that day to be a so called alibi witness for him.  And yet, to fit a trip to Normal into the small window they were given he would have had to had speed there but had followed all traffic rules the rest of the day.  In fact, to that point Beaman had apparently always followed all traffic rules, or close to it anyway.  Beaman had absolutely nothing on his criminal record of any kind prior to Jennifer's death.  It was said that some time after she died he did receive a speeding ticket but that was the only thing he ever had.  

The appeals court reversed Beaman's conviction mainly on what is called a Brady violation. A Brady violation means that the prosecution did not give the defense all of the information that they had in order to give Beaman the best defense that they could.  This all went back to John Doe and the information the prosecution had on him but lied about not just to the defense, but to the court.  The courts ordered that he be released or held over for a new trial.  Beaman was released on bond in June of 2008.  In January of 2009 the prosecutors decided to dismiss the charges against him all but saying they now did not have enough evidence to secure a conviction.  

Soon after the dismissal of charges Beaman filed for what is called a Certificate of Innocence.  In essence this would prevent the police or prosecutors from ever bringing charges against him, but more importantly would allow him to seek compensation for the more than twelve years he spent in prison (that amount would be approximately $170,000). The state of course attempted to fight his attempt, and in reality it was not too hard to do.  All the state had to say was that while they did not have enough evidence at that time to re-charge Beaman, they did not have enough against anyone else either so the case was still open and no one could say what evidence would surface.  The state was successful in their efforts, for a while anyway.  Then in 2012, in an effort to officially clear Beaman his representatives asked for DNA testing on the semen and it was granted.  One has to bet that the state was all for this, convinced that Beaman was the perpetrator.  Everyone was surprised when the results were reveals.  Not only was there not a match to Beaman, but the other three main suspects in the case were also not a match.  The DNA results revealed the presence of semen from two unknown males.

The following year, in 2013, the state of Illinois dropped their opposition to Beaman's attempt to get a Certificate of Innocence and it was granted, giving him the ability to obtain compensation for his years in prison.  In January of 2015 the outgoing Governor, Pat Quinn granted Beaman clemency.  This is apparently unusual to have both the Certificate of Innocence and the clemency but in essence it all means that Beaman's record is wiped clean.  But, I am sure it is not all that it seems as Beaman would have to explain to employers why there is a nearly 13 year gap in his employment records and likely has to carry something with him to explain the situation wherever he goes.  

Over the years Beaman has filed several cases against the people involved in the investigation, including the prosecutors and the officers, as well as the Town of Normal.  In June of 2016 the case was dismissed again by the courts but Beaman's attorney's have said they will appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.  Beaman has gotten married since his release and has two daughters with his wife.  I will point out that they have had one biological daughter and he has adopted his wife's daughter from a previous relationship. From a family who has had a "step-parent" adoption I only add this for those who may want to correct me later on. 

From an investigation point of view it has been said that if the contributors of the semen are found, the killer(s) will be found.  I do not share this sentiment, at least not from a legal point of view.  First, considering there are two semen samples and yet really no other signs of multiple perpetrators could easily be an out if one (or even both later) of the contributors are found.  Secondly, from all accounts that I have found the only other forensics in the case came from the unidentified print left on the alarm clock.  I heard no information about anything on the fan, or even the scissors (or even if the scissors were for sure discovered for that matter).  Even if the one print matched one of the DNA contributors, and considering her past I think someone could easily talk themselves out of any questions investigators may have.  Add to this the case is now close to twenty five years old and the state spent most of that time trying to convince people they had "their man."  Sadly for Jennifer's family I do not ever see someone being brought to justice for her murder. 

Comments

  1. Hi Susan,
    Good synopsis of the Alan Beaman case. Bloomington and Normal are a "twin cities." You're right - unless you live here you really don't know where the borders are between the towns and in terms of everyday life, it doesn't really matter to the folks who live here. As I said before, however, I do question the methods and practices of our police and prosecutors when a high profile case emerges. I don't know if it is incompetence, corruption, or what. The John Doe angle is so bizarre, it makes me wonder if John Doe was the son or brother or husband of some high mucky-muck in this town. Lori

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    1. Oh Lori....that makes sense about John Doe. I have just never heard of them not naming names like this. I would think though the people around know who it is because Alan Beaman apparently did and so would Michael Swain since John Doe said that he and Jennifer had gotten drugs from him. I would think small town gossip is high there.

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  2. Or John Doe was granted some sort of identity protection because he offered up details pertinent to another investigation. If he is dealing drugs, what are the odds he had information about other criminal activity?

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