Krajcir won't face death in Illinois

Thursday, January 10, 2008
Timothy Krajcir

MARION, Ill. -- At alleged serial killer Timothy W. Krajcir's initial court appearance in Williamson County, Ill., on Wednesday afternoon, State's Attorney Charles Garnati waived the death penalty for the two murder counts Krajcir faces for a 1978 murder.

Garnati said the state agreed to take the death penalty off the table because of Krajcir's cooperation in helping authorities solve the murder of Virginia L. Witte, but did not elaborate on his decision.

The first count alleges that Krajcir, 63, murdered Witte, and the second charges him with killing her while committing another felony, that of forcible rape.

Witte was found dead at her Marion home by her husband, David Witte, on May 12, 1978. She had been strangled to death and suffered a severe knife wound.

Witte's two sons were not present at the hearing, but Marion Police Department Detective Tina Morrow said she has been keeping them informed of the case's progress.

Virginia Witte

"They are excited but not quite sure what to expect," she said.

The Witte family's reaction to learning it was an admitted serial killer who may be responsible for their mother's death was similar to hers, she said: They were shocked.

"We don't have serial killers in Southern Illinois," Morrow said.

More DNA evidence

Though police have collected more than 100 pieces of DNA evidence in connection with the Witte murder, that material has not yet been submitted to the crime lab for analysis in comparison to Krajcir's DNA profile, Morrow said.

She is preparing the evidence and plans to have it submitted soon, she said.

Police are discussing with Garnati when to submit the evidence in connection with the court proceedings, because the state wants the case to progress as quickly as possible because other jurisdictions wait in the wings to prosecute Krajcir. Krajcir faces burglary and kidnapping charges in Paducah, Ky., in connection with the 1979 abduction and killing of Joyce Tharp.

In December, Krajcir was charged with five counts of first-degree murder in Cape Girardeau County for the 1977 killing of Mary and Brenda Parsh and Sheila Cole and the 1982 murders of Margie Call and Mildred Wallace. Krajcir won't be extradited to Missouri until the Illinois case is resolved.

A preliminary hearing in the Witte case is set for 9:30 a.m. Jan. 18. In the meantime, Krajcir will remain at the supermax prison in Tamms, Ill., on a $1 million bond.

Because the murder charges stem from a crime that occurred in 1978, Krajcir has the choice of facing the relevant law as it existed in 1978, or current laws pertaining to the charges. The two versions of the law have a slight difference in the factors that would affect the length of the sentence, such as the brutality of the crime.

335-6611, extension 245

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