Records Turned Over To Defense

Prosecutors share details in case of Oswego man charged with killing family
By: Hal Dardick
(reprinted from the Chicago Tribune (IL), October 11, 2007)

Hundreds of pages of life-insurance and credit-card records related to an Oswego man accused of killing his wife and three children have been turned over to defense attorneys in the death penalty case, according to court documents made public Wednesday.

The records, given to lawyers defending Christopher Vaughn, include a list of additional witnesses who could be called at trial. They include a life-insurance official at Ameriprise Financial, an employee of American Express Financial, a subpoena analyst at JP Morgan Chase Bank and a paralegal at John Hancock Life Insurance Co.

Also turned over to defense attorneys were a 71-page July 20 Illinois State Police report on Chase Bank credit card records, a 150-page response to a subpoena of Ameriprise Financial and a 135-page Sept. 6 response from John Hancock Life Insurance.

Will County State’s Atty. James Glasgow’s office also turned over CD recordings of a telephone conversation between Vaughn and someone at John Hancock Life Insurance and Vaughn’s "initial" phone calls at the Will County Jail, where he is being held without bail.

Glasgow last month decided to seek capital punishment for Vaughn, if he is convicted of murdering his wife, Kimberly, 34, and their three children: Abigayle, 12, Cassandra, 11, and Blake, 8. The four were found shot to death June 14 in the family sport-utility vehicle, which was parked near a frontage road off Interstate Highway 55 in Channahon Township.

Vaughn, who had relatively minor gunshot wounds, was arrested nine days later in his home state of Missouri as he arrived for his family’s funeral.

Authorities have declined to discuss a motive in the case, so it is not known the role finances played, if any. Charles Pelkie, Glasgow’s spokesman, declined to discuss the court filings, but exhaustive investigations are common in capital cases.

"It all continues right up until trial essentially," he said. "Whatever information is out there we will continue to look into."

Scott Rosenblum, one of Vaughn’s attorneys, characterized the new documents as "due diligence."

When prosecutors in August filed an initial list of more than 270 potential witnesses, included were an insurance-fraud investigator, two strip-club workers and the president of a Plainfield gun shop and shooting range. They also sought all life-insurance records for Vaughn from John Hancock Financial Services.

Among the evidence turned over are Illinois State Police reports, crime-lab results, transcripts of Vaughn’s voluntary police interviews before his arrest and cell-phone records.

The Vaughns had significant debt on their home, public records show. In May 2006, the family moved into a 3,373-square-foot, $417,000 house in Oswego, taking out two mortgages that nearly equaled the purchase price, the records show.

Just a year earlier, the Vaughns sold their home in Sammamish, Wash., public records show.

In Washington, Vaughn in December 2003 incorporated StoneBridge Security, a corporate computer-fraud and cyber-crimes investigation firm.

About two years before the deaths, the Vaughns moved to an apartment in Aurora, and Christopher Vaughn then took a full-time job with Navigant Consulting’s computer forensics group in Chicago.