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Once Wrongly Convicted of Murder, Man Slain

By Becky Schlikerman | January 8, 2013 12:02am
 Lionel Lane, 51, was shot and killed Jan. 5 in the 4600 block of West Monroe Street in Austin.
Lionel Lane, 51, was shot and killed Jan. 5 in the 4600 block of West Monroe Street in Austin.
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AUSTIN — Lionel Lane was known as a generous person willing to give a helping hand to a friend. In that spirit, he came to the rescue of his longtime girlfriend after a man grabbed her in a gangway and threated to sexually assault her, the girlfriend said.

As Heidi Quitter yelled for help in the 4600 block of West Monroe Street, Lane rushed to her aid about 2 a.m. that Jan. 5 morning.

“He jumped through the gangway, pushed me away and pushed the guy to the ground,” Quitter said. “The next thing you know the guy pulled the trigger.”

The gunman fled and Lane was left on the gangway’s cold ground, according to Quitter.

Lane, 51, was pronounced dead at Stroger Hospital early Jan. 5, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

It was a tragic end to a turbulent life.

When he was 8 years old, Lane’s mother abandoned him and he grew up in foster care and group homes, Quitter said.

He had a history of homelessness and run-ins with police throughout the Chicago area, according to Quitter and court records.

In 1994 Lane was charged with the 1993 murder of Virginia Johannessen, a 74-year-old Aurora woman found dead in her home, according to court records and the Northwestern University Center on Wrongful Conviction. 

In 1995 he was convicted of the murder. A few months later, two men were arrested for an unrelated murder and confessed to Johannessen’s murder and the murder of another woman in the same neighborhood. The charges against Lane were dropped and his conviction was vacated.

Lane had a history of depression and was being treated for the illness, Quitter said, adding that Lane was trying to get his life in order. He had been working odd jobs, including as an auto mechanic, his true passion in life.

Quitter and Lane were living in Lane’s aunt’s Wheaton home, but were visiting Chicago when he was killed.

Lane and Quitter have one daughter, 7-year-old Alexis.

“He didn’t think about nothing but protecting me,” Quitter said.