COMO – Sunday marks the 1-year anniversary of the unsolved shooting death of Jason Chapman, whose body was found in his Front Street yard in this unincorporated village west of Rock Falls early July 5.
Despite interviews with about a dozen people and $15,000 in available reward money, no suspect has been identified or motive determined, Whiteside County Sheriff John Booker said this week.
The shooting, investigators say, happened in about a 2-hour window between 10:15 p.m. July 4 and 12:30 a.m. July 5, when Chapman’s body was found.
Early on, the investigators ruled out the possibility that his death may have been caused by a stray bullet fired by a Fourth of July reveler.
“This was a homicide,” Booker said.
Sheriff’s investigators have conducted dozens of interviews. They searched the nearby Rock River with sonar devices, looking for a weapon or other evidence, to no avail.
They are continuing to work with state police and other agencies, including federal investigators, Booker said.
“We don’t have one suspect in mind. We are looking for evidence to point us in the direction of the right one.”
Whiteside County Crime Stoppers has increased its reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction from $1,000 to $5,000 in major crimes such as murder.
Chapman’s parents, Dennis and Lorna Hemminger of Sterling, also are offering $10,000.
“We have had a lot of pieces of information shared with us, and we’ve followed up on all of them,” Booker said. “The detectives are really working hard on this.”
He said he’s also met regularly with the Hemmingers, who are, not surprisingly, frustrated with the lack of an arrest.
“We try to share as much information with them as we can without passing out information that would be harmful to the investigation,” Booker said.
The 43-year-old was the Hemmingers’ only son; he also is survived by his son, Tyler, his granddaughter, Zoey, and by his sister, Amy Rodriguez.
Dennis Hemminger has painted and posted handmade signs throughout the area, to let people know of the family’s reward. It includes a phone number to call: 815-626-1039.
Booker, too, is encouraging anyone who might know something about that night in Como to call the sheriff’s department at 815-772-4044, or, if they want to remain anonymous, Crime Stoppers at 815-625-7867.
Oftentimes, people don’t realize when they know something that might be helpful, Booker said. He’s asking folks to wrack their brains.
“Anyone that thinks they have even the smallest bit of info, we’ll be happy to listen to.”