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The Grover Thompson Case

Photo of client, Grover Thompson. On September 7, 1981, Grover Thompson was traveling by bus from his sister’s house in Milwaukee to visit family in Mississippi when he got off the bus for the night because he was tired and unable to sleep on the noisy bus. He had learned from prior experience that post office lobbies made good places to crash – they were always open and climate-controlled. From the bus he could see the post office one block away.

That evening, Ida White, a 72-year-old widow living in an apartment building across the street from the post office, was attacked by a man hiding in her shower, who had entered her apartment earlier through the bathroom window. As White entered the bathroom and pulled back the shower curtain to take a shower, she was stabbed repeatedly in the abdomen. She began screaming for help and a neighbor heard her screams and pushed open the door connecting his apartment with hers. The neighbor claimed that the perpetrator escaped through the bathroom window.

Photo of IIP staff and supporters at the Clemency Petition for Grover Thompson Press Conference.

Believing that an innocent man was convicted of a crime that someone else committed, the Illinois Innocence Project and SIU law students wrote a petition for clemency for Grover Thompson (who died in prison) in an effort to clear his name of the crime he was convicted of thirty years ago. The group, along with Mr. Thompson’s nephew, testified before the Illinois Prison Review Board on January 11, 2012.

The neighbor, Barney Bates, described the perpetrator as being a black male with a rough face and facial hair. Mount Vernon police found Thompson, who was black, near the post office shortly after the attack and subsequently arrested him. Police told Bates they had a suspect and took him to the police station for a one-person line-up. Despite the fact that Thompson was the sole person in the line-up, it took Bates 15 minutes to positively identify Thompson. In addition, Bates stated that Thompson’s clothes were different. He would change his account of the evening several times in subsequent interviews.

Thompson was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison. His appeal was denied and he died in prison in 1996. Years later, convicted serial killer Timothy Krajcir confessed to the crime to now retired Lt. Paul Echols of the Carbondale Police Department and Detective Jimmy Smith of Cape Girardeau. His account of what happened that night, including an accurate description of the victim’s apartment was eerily dead on.

Believing in his innocence, Grover Thompson’s nephew, along with the support and work of professors and law students from Southern Illinois University School of Law and the Illinois Innocence Project filed a Executive Clemency Petition with the Illinois Prisoner Review Board on October 28, 2011, seeking a posthumous pardon for Mr. Thompson. A hearing is scheduled with the Review Board on January 11, 2012 in Springfield.

If interested in showing your support, please consider signing our petition on Change.org. Thank you!

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