Sunday, August 8, 2010


"Asked if he felt that the prosecutors owed him an apology, Hobbs said they have only invited scrutiny upon themselves.

"They owe [themselves] an apology," he said. "It's not over yet. It's going to bring up lies from other cases."

But Hobbs said he didn't want to be viewed as a victim — that the only victims were the two dead children, whom he called "angels."

"It's not about me," he said. "It's about my kid. It's about my baby, Laura." "



BACKGROUND: The northern Illinois man jailed on first-degree murder charges in the 2005 stabbing deaths of his daughter and another young girl was freed early in August, 2010, after prosecutors dropped charges because DNA evidence from the crime scene matched that of another man. Hobbs, 39, had pleaded not guilty in the stabbing deaths of his 8-year-old daughter, Laura, and her friend, 9-year-old Krystal Tobias in Zion, about 50 miles north of Chicago. Prosecutors in Lake County had several months earlier that DNA from the crime scene matched another man who once lived in Zion but was in custody in Virginia after being charged in two attacks on women. The DNA match came on June 25 from a national database, where the man's DNA had been recently entered, according to Lake County Deputy State's Attorney Jeffrey Pavletic. Prosecutors then relaunched their investigation. The man in custody in Virginia has not been charged in the 2005 Zion deaths. In May 2005, Jerry Hobbs reported finding the girls' bodies near their homes in Zion. Both had been stabbed numerous times. Prosecutors alleged Hobbs killed them because he was angry his daughter was outside when she was supposed to be home. Police said Hobbs confessed to the slayings, but his attorneys said the confession was coerced. Both defense attorneys and prosecutors have acknowledged there was no physical evidence linking Hobbs to the killings.


"WICHITA FALLS, Texas — — Jerry Hobbs signed the confession placed in front of him by detectives, but not because he believed for a moment that he was guilty of killing his 8-year-old daughter and her young friend, he said Thursday," the Chicago Tribune interview by reporters Lisa Black and Dan Hinkel, published on August 5, 2010 begins, under the heading, "'It's not about me. It's about my kid. It's about my baby, Laura.': Jerry Hobbs describes his five-year ordeal in exclusive interview with Tribune."

""The only thing they had gotten out of me was what they got out of a broken father," Hobbs said. "She was my baby girl. She was my joy and my pride, and to find her the way I did, it would knock anybody to their knees," the story continues.

Hobbs described his five-year jail ordeal in Lake County during an exclusive interview with the Tribune at the neatly kept ranch home that his mother, JoAnn, shares with her boyfriend near this northeast Texas city. Their 10-acre spread is located in the rural countryside, where oil rigs, barbed wire and grasslands are plentiful.

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Hobbs was able to wait patiently in jail, he said, because he knew he was innocent. He read the Bible many times while locked up, he said.

"I don't ride on luck. I ride on faith," Hobbs said.

A day earlier, three members of Hobbs' defense team drove him the roughly 1,000 miles from Waukegan to Wichita Falls. They spent most of their time, he said, discussing his case before passing him off to his mother early Thursday at a convenience store.

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty against Hobbs until Wednesday, when they led him into court in shackles and then abruptly dropped charges. He had been accused of killing his daughter, Laura, and her friend Krystal Tobias, 9, whose bodies he found and led police to in May 2005.

But in June, authorities learned of a DNA match linking the crime to another man, prompting an investigation that led to Hobbs' release.

Asked if he felt that the prosecutors owed him an apology, Hobbs said they have only invited scrutiny upon themselves.

"They owe [themselves] an apology," he said. "It's not over yet. It's going to bring up lies from other cases."

But Hobbs said he didn't want to be viewed as a victim — that the only victims were the two dead children, whom he called "angels."

"It's not about me," he said. "It's about my kid. It's about my baby, Laura."

Hobbs will turn 40 this month. He is a slightly built, articulate man with a light Texas accent. Smiles don't come easily. Hobbs, who had faced a possible death sentence, appeared quiet and reflective at his mother's spacious red-brick home, which features Texas-style decor, including a stuffed bobcat that once terrorized local chickens.

JoAnn Hobbs served her son burritos for breakfast Thursday. He ate only one, saying he wasn't used to eating a lot of meat in jail.

In jail, Hobbs spent much of his time reading history books and National Geographic magazine, in addition to the Bible, or doodling pictures in letters he sent to his mother, he said. Envelopes addressed to "Mom" were decorated with pictures such as one of a man holding a baby that, he said, he traced from a Bible.

Hobbs drew his own elaborate cartoons, including one of a little boy sitting in a cell, his head hung low and chained to a wall. Hobbs said he spent a lot of time in isolation, but he didn't mind that in the weeks after his daughter's gruesome slaying and his arrest.

"It took me about six months to collect myself," he said.

Back in Texas, his mother stopped talking to people about the case under the pressure of knowing people thought Hobbs was guilty, she said. One Texas politician even used Hobbs as an example of a broken criminal justice system, showing his mug shot over and over in a re-election bid.

Hobbs had been released from a Texas prison shortly before being arrested in the Zion slayings. He served time for a parole violation after a drunken rampage through a trailer park with a chain saw.

"I had a real bad drinking problem back then," said Hobbs, who said he stopped drinking alcohol before he was jailed in Illinois.

Prosecutors have known since 2008 that semen found inside Laura's body did not match Hobbs' DNA.

"It was over in 2008," Hobbs said, referring to when his defense presented DNA evidence that did not match his own.

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"That's why it took five years," he said. "They knew they had no case."

Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller, who has been criticized for his office's handling of cases involving DNA, said he doesn't know what Hobbs means about "lies" in other cases.

"I have no idea what he could be talking about or how he would have any knowledge of any other cases," he said.

Hobbs said he was reluctant to proclaim his innocence while he was in jail for fear it would persuade prosecutors to be harder on him.

Waller said he isn't sure how Hobbs could have hurt his case by proclaiming his innocence from jail. Hobbs had chances to defend himself, Waller said, adding that Hobbs signed the confession to the killings at 5:50 a.m. on May 10, 2005, but he was not video-recorded reading the statement until 2 p.m. that day, according to court testimony.

Police would have looked into anything he said on the video, Waller said.

Hobbs said he wants to spend time with his two boys, Jeremy, 9, and Jerry Hobbs IV, 15. The boys live with their half-sister and Hobbs' ex-girlfriend, Sheila Hollabaugh, who was also Laura's mother, in Grove City, Penn., where she moved shortly after the slayings. Remarried, she now works the overnight shift at a convenience store.

The boys want to see their father, Hollabaugh said.

Jeremy is too young to understand the situation, but his older brother has taken his father's ordeal personally, she said. The teenager "absolutely despises" police because he thinks they pin crimes on innocent people, she said.

"He's been really angry. You know, he's always known that his dad didn't do this," she said.

Hollabaugh, who said she has never believed Hobbs killed the girls, is happy for him. But she continues to receive therapy for issues related to Laura's death. She said she remains furious at Lake County prosecutors and police.

Hobbs, she said, was an easy scapegoat.

Prosecutors have not confirmed the identity of the man now under investigation, but his sister has identified him as Jorge Torrez, 21, a former Zion resident being held in the Arlington, Va., jail without bond on unrelated rape, abduction and robbery charges.

Torrez has not been charged with killing the girls, and he is slated for trial on the Virginia felonies in October.

Hobbs said he has no special plans for his future other than seeing his boys. He said a few times that he wants to use his new freedom to be himself.

"I'm just Jerry," he said.

The story can be found at:,0,7522701.story

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be accessed at:

For a breakdown of some of the cases, issues and controversies this Blog is currently following, please turn to:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;;