Man convicted of killing girlfriend, sealing remains in his McHenry-area home is denied new trial

William Ross was arrested in Las Vegas after his girlfriend’s body was found in his home

A man serving 49 years for the murder of his girlfriend in his McHenry home has been denied a new trial.

William Ross, 72, was convicted following a jury trial in 2016. In his request for new trial, he claimed he had ineffective counsel and that his constitutional rights were violated. Among his assertions were that his lawyers did not present evidence at trial of other potential killers or properly interview or investigate others in connection with the death of 49-year-old Jacqueline Schaefer.

In 2021, Judge Michael Coppedge had denied Ross’s petition for new trial on Ross’s claims of “actual innocence,” Judge Tiffany Davis said Friday. That ruling was rejected at the Second District Appellate Court who found Coppedge, who has since died, was “without authority to dismiss” Ross’s petition.

The Illinois Supreme Court declined to hear his case, Davis said. Then Friday, she granted prosecutors’ request to dismiss Ross’s petition for a new trial.

Schaefer’s body was found in a room in Ross’s home after he fled to Las Vegas, where he was later arrested. The door to the room in which Schaefer was found was sealed with caulk, nails, trim, paint and screws, according to trial testimony. Her body was found by a friend and her then-boyfriend Nov. 6, 2013, which Ross’s attorney David Johnson had said was “suspicious,” asserting they could have killed Schaefer. In other claims, Ross also has sought to argue she could have been killed by a biker gang, her former boyfriend or someone in her own family, according to trial testimony.

In ruling against Ross, Davis said the petition “is devoid of any new facts” to support Ross’s claims, and there is “simply very little to no evidence ... someone else killed her. Court finds there was sufficient [evidence to convict Ross].” Davis also said Ross’s petition “failed to establish any deficiency in trial counsel performance” or show any new evidence that was not introduced or not available at his trial to support his claims.