SYCAMORE - More than two years after an Ohio man was arrested and charged for the double murder of mother and son Patricia and Robert Wilson in rural Sycamore, a trial date remains elusive.
Jonathan Hurst, now 52, faces first-degree murder charges accused of beating and stabbing to death Robert J. Wilson, 64, and his mother Patricia A. Wilson, 85, at their country home on Aug. 14, 2016. He’s been held without bail at the DeKalb County Jail since his Feb. 24, 2020 arrest. The mother and son were found brutally beaten to the death inside their home on Old State Road.
He appeared virtually via Zoom in front of Circuit Court Judge Marcy Buick this week for a status hearing on the charges. Hurst, sporting a long beard and ponytail, appeared calm during his Thursday hearing.
After a 3 1/2-year investigation chasing more than 1,300 leads and an in-depth forensic search, DeKalb County sheriff’s deputies arrested Hurst, formerly of Chicago, at his home in Cincinnati, Ohio in February 2020.
At the time of his arrest, police said Hurst denied ever being in Sycamore, although DNA evidence places him there, police said.
Police said DNA samples collected from a variety of sources inside the Wilson home matched Hurst’s DNA, reconstructed through an extensive process with Virginia-based Parabon Labs. It’s the same forensic DNA tool used to catch the suspect in the Golden State Killer case in California.
Hurst is represented by the DeKalb County Public Defender’s Office. Public Defender Tom McCulloch asked the judge for additional time to allow for his defense team to review evidence materials and solicit their own forensic expert. One who can testify to materials which will, according to court records, be submitted by the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office to prosecute Hurst.
“We’re behind is the only what I can explain it,” McCulloch said. “So I need a further status date.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Suzanne Collins said the Wilson family hopes the case can move as expeditiously as possible.
“I’ve spoken with the family, they are very anxious to get this case going,” Collins said. “I do understand the plight that’s going on with Mr. McCulloch. At the time I took over this case, the discovery was already complete. He talked about an expert, we’d love to see what information that expert might have.”
Investigators have said they’ve been unable to find any connection Hurst may have had to the Wilsons. DeKalb County coroner’s records, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, describe a gruesome scene in which a killer used an unknown weapon to inflict repeated head injuries on the Wilsons, who likely fought for their lives. Robert Wilson was also stabbed multiple times.
The coroner’s report from the scene Aug. 15, 2016, shows that both Patricia and Robert were found fully clothed with valuables including cash, a wallet and jewelry on them, backing the police assertion that the killer seemed to take nothing from the house but a vehicle.
Police have a general idea about the time of the crime because Patricia Wilson’s white Chevrolet Impala sedan was captured by a camera at 12:44 a.m. Aug. 15 traveling east on Route 64 at Route 59. About 6 p.m. that day, a family member concerned about not hearing from the Wilsons for almost 24 hours went to check on them and discovered the crime scene.
Hurst has no known ties to the Sycamore area or the Wilson family, but deputies say an abundance of DNA collected in the Wilsons’ home matches Hurst with the crime. Cellphone records put him in the area the day before, and Patricia’s car was found parked less than a mile from Hurst’s former home in Chicago.
Buick set Hurst’s next court appearance at 2:30 p.m. June 2, when he’s expected to appear virtually again for another status hearing.
If convicted Hurst faces life in prison. He pleaded not guilty in March of 2020. Investigators thus far have not unveiled a motive or murder weapon.