Lake County: Identity of Victim of Lake Villa Alley Murder Released

Authorities have released the identity of the Lake Villa man who was killed after he was robbed by two male suspects in an alley on Grand Avenue near Milwaukee Avenue in Lake Villa last Saturday night.

Lake County Coroner’s Office Coroner Dr. Howard Cooper released the identity of the victim Wednesday morning July 25, 2018 as Jerry Griffith, 58.

Following the investigation of Griffith’s death involving suspicious injuries in alley on Grand Avenue in Lake Villa; Jordan L. Toney, 19, and Buddy W. Johnson, 20, were charged with three counts of first-degree murder. Police initially reported that the victim, a Lake Villa man in his 50s, was severely beaten by the men during a robbery.

The suspects of Lake Villa Township have been accused of beating Jerry Griffith to death in the block of 300 Grand Avenue in Lake Villa on Saturday, July 21, 2018. Griffith’s body was discovered about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, July 21, 2018.

The two men were immediately detained as persons of interest, and were charged with First Degree Murder following an investigation by the Lake Villa Police Department and the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, according to task force spokesman Christopher Covelli. Initially the circumstances of how they were identified as suspects was not immediately released. Wednesday morning, Covelli revealed that investigators developed leads in the case that were immediately investigated, and one of the leads led detectives to a business. The suspects had been observed and identified on previously taken video surveillance.

Covelli said the investigation discovered that the murder victim was walking home after making a purchase at a local business. As Jerry Griffith was walking in an alley in the block of 300 East Grand Avenue, Johnson and Toney attacked Griffith — using their fists, feet and a sandbag. During the fatal beating, the suspects robbed the victim of his wallet, and the victim fell to the ground. Before Johnson and Toney fled from the scene, they dropped a 40- or 50-pound bag of sand on his face, according to Covelli, and Griffith died from his injuries.

Preliminary autopsy results indicated Griffith died of multiple traumatic injuries, according to Lake County Coroner Dr. Howard Cooper. Routine toxicology results are pending.

“It appears to be a crime of opportunity,” Covelli said. Neither Johnson nor Toney knew the Lake Villa man prior to the robbery, officials said.

“First and foremost, I want to extend my deepest heartfelt sympathy to the family and friends of the victim in this case. This man did nothing wrong. He was an innocent victim, minding his own business, when he encountered evil in that alley. This incident is not reflective of the community of Lake Villa, a family oriented town populated by great people.”

— Lake Villa Police Chief Craig Somerville

Toney, of the block of 39000 of North Poplar Street in Lake Villa Township, and Johnson of the block of 21600 of West Birch Street in Lake Villa Township, were charged and booked by Lake Villa police before being transferred to Waukegan Monday afternoon, where they appeared in Lake County Circuit Court.

The bond for each suspect was set at $5 million, and both are due back in court Tuesday, August 21, 2018.

Jordan Toney and Buddy Johnson, Lake Villa First Degree Murder SuspectsJordan Toney (left) and Buddy Johnson, Lake Villa First Degree Murder Suspects (Lake County Sheriff’s Office).

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Neighborhood where man was found murdered …