Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wilmette, IL: Year in Review: Double murder-suicide jars community

December 31, 2009
The Wilmette community was shocked and saddened when a resident fatally shot his wife and stepson and then killed himself.

On Feb. 28, Kathryn Wiley-Motes and her 17-year-old son, Christopher Motes, were murdered at home by her husband, Richard Wiley. They lived on the 800 block of Greenleaf Avenue in a house next door to the First Presbyterian Church and owned by the church.

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The North Regional Major Crimes Task Force responded March 2 to the murder-suicide discovered two days earlier in this Wilmette house on the 800 block of Greenleaf Avenue. Kathryn Wiley-Motes and her 17-year-old son, Christopher Motes, were murdered at home by her husband, Richard Wiley, who then took his own life. The house has since been torn down.
(Al Podgorski/Sun-Times Media)

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Wiley-Motes had worked in the church office for 11 years. Her son was a senior at New Trier High School and a history buff who participated in Civil War re-enactments. Wiley used Christopher's muzzle-loading Civil War replica shotgun to kill his family and himself.

The police found notes written by Wiley in the house, including one 40-page journal detailing his physical, mental health and financial problems.

Wiley had served 15 years in prison for fatally stabbing his previous wife. In 2001, a year after he was released from prison, he married Kathryn Motes in First Presbyterian, which they both attended.

The house where the family lived has been demolished. In its place, the church will build a fellowship garden for the public to enjoy, as a gesture of gratitude for the support the congregation received from all segments of the community, including other churches, neighbors, the Police Department and local businesses.

"We are not trying to erase a tragedy," said the Rev. Sarah Butter, the pastor of First Presbyterian. "We are trying to respond in a way that's faithful and transforming.

"We would like to create a community fellowship garden where people can come to relax and meditate and consider God's creation and each other's comfort."

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