Crystal Lake man found dead with gunshot wound in Kane County; Pingree Grove man charged with murder

James Cromwell was last seen March 12, police said

Douglas Ottesen of Pingree Grove, charged with murder in May 2024 in the death of Crystal Lake resident James Cromwell.

A Crystal Lake man has been found dead on a property in Hampshire Township, and another man has been charged with murder in his death, authorities said.

Authorities said Crystal Lake police initiated an investigation on April 4 into a man who had been reported missing from a local residence. The probe “indicated that the circumstances surrounding the incident may by criminal in nature,” according to a news release from the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office.

More than a month later, that led to searches of two properties in Kane County, one in Pingree Grove and one along Route 72 in Hampshire Township. At the latter address, Crystal Lake police discovered the remains of James Cromwell, 57, according to the news release; an autopsy later determined he had died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Douglas Ottesen, who lives at the Pingree Grove address that police searched in the 600 block of North Falls Circle, has been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, unlawful possession of a weapon and ammunition by a felon and concealment of a homicide, according to the release, citing Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser, Crystal Lake police Chief James Black and Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain.

Crystal Lake police later said that they determined during their investigation that Cromwell was last seen on March 12. Deputy Chief of Administration Rick Neumann said authorities did not issue a public missing-persons alert because of the early indications that a criminal act could be behind Cromwell’s disappearance.

Neumann did not specify how or if Cromwell knew Ottesen.

McHenry County court records show Ottesen was charged last June with simple battery, but that charge was later dropped. In Kane County, records indicate Ottesen was charged in 1995 with home invasion, armed violence, aggravated battery and residential burglary. The following year, Ottesen pleaded guilty in the case to residential burglary and received a sentence of five years in prison, with the more serious charges dropped, according to the court records.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Guido Ottesen, who identified himself as the defendant’s brother, called him “an awesome guy.”