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Grandmother Hired Grandson To Kill Grandfather, Prosecutors Say

By  Alex Parker  and Quinn Ford | April 6, 2013 1:11pm | Updated on April 7, 2013 8:32am

 Janet Strickland, 62, and William Strickland, 19, are charged in the murder of William Strickland, 72.
Janet Strickland, 62, and William Strickland, 19, are charged in the murder of William Strickland, 72.
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Chicago Police Department

CHICAGO — The wife of a 72-year-old man gunned down in a robbery last month has been charged in his murder, and prosecutors say she "commissioned" her grandson to commit the murder.

After William Strickland was shot dead, his wife, Janet Strickland, 64, and her grandson, also named William Strickland, 19, went on a shopping spree with money taken from the dead man, prosecutors said Saturday.

Janet Strickland, of the 400 block of East 95th Street is charged with first-degree murder and robbery in the death of her husband, who was killed on the morning of March 2. He was standing in a gangway awaiting a ride to a dialysis treatment when he was approached by two males, who robbed and shot him, police said.

Janet Strickland was held on $500,000 bail Saturday. William Strickland, 19, was charged late last month and was denied bail.

Assistant State's Attorney Jacqueline Kwilos said Janet Strickland and her grandson "discussed on numerous occasions killing the victim. [Janet Strickland] stated numerous times to her grandson that she was sick of his grandfather and that she wanted her husband dead. She stated she wished he was not here and she wanted him gone."

Though they discussed hiring someone else to do the deed, Janet Strickland wanted it done quickly, and her grandson said he would kill the elder Strickland, Kwilos said. He used his grandfather's gun, shooting him six times, Kwilos said. She said Janet Strickland admitted to knowing her grandson had a gun, and that she let him use her car.

"When the defendant unlocked the door and let the victim leave for his dialysis appointment, she admitted that she knew the victim would be killed by the grandson," Kwilos said.

After the killing, Janet and the younger Strickland went on a "shopping spree" with money they stole from the victim, Kwilos said.

Janet Strickland allegedly bought her grandson a car, and home furnishings for herself. Prosecutors said the younger Strickland used money he stole from his dead grandfather to buy tattoos, new shoes and a new phone.

After the death of her husband, Janet Strickland resisted talking with a DNAinfo.com Chicago reporter, saying she was too tired. After her grandson's appearance in bond court March 30, she avoided media waiting outside the Strickland home.

Janet Strickland, who was arrested Saturday, did not appear in court Saturday, and was in a hospital being treated for high blood pressure and a lung disease.

Neighbors said Saturday afternoon they were shocked to hear the news.

"Three shocks," Theolene Shears, who lives next door to the Stricklands, said. "I've had three shocks in one month. I can't believe any of it"

Shears and her husband, Leon Shears, said they did not socialize with the Stricklands but described them as good neighbors.

"He seemed very happy with her and she likewise with him," Leon Shears said. "As far as we were concerned, they were a happy couple."

The Shears said Janet Strickland liked to decorate their home and "went all out" for Christmas. The Shears daughter, Kathy Shears, said their neighbors also liked to play music outside.

"They played my kind of music: Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson, that kind of stuff" Kathy Shears said. "They'd play music, and I'd be jamming to it."

The Shears and other neighbors said soon after Strickland was killed, his grandson had  bought a used, bright-red, Pontiac sports car that sat outside the house.

Theolene Shears said along with the shock, she also has some sympathy for her neighbors.

"We just regret all this has happened. All of it because all of them are suffering," she said. "She still has a conscience I'm sure...and the boy's life is gone. He'll probably never get out of jail."

"And he shouldn't," Leon Shears added.