Prosecutor: Man Used ‘Samurai Knife’ To Stab Grandmother 35 Times; Rocks Historic Suburb Of Chicago, Bail Denied Based On “Viciousness” Of Crime

Isaiah Jones Cook County sheriff’s office
Isaiah Jones, 20, has been charged with first-degree murder after stabbing his elderly relative multiple times with the blade. Photo: Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

CHICAGO, IL – A man in the greater Bellwood, Chicago, Illinois area fatally stabbed an elderly woman with a “samurai sword” on Thursday, The Chicago Sun-Times reported on April 5. Isaiah Jones, 20, has been charged with first-degree murder after stabbing his elderly relative, Jearlean Willingham, 76, multiple times with the blade. 

Willingham was killed inside her Bellwood home, according to both Fox7 and ABC 7 news. Jones then made away with “envelopes” full of cash as well as a phone. 

Willingham was described by Cook County’s Assistant State Attorney Christina Dracopoulos, as a “step-great-grandmother” of Jones. He spent a large part of his life with her. Jones was staying with Willingham at her residence on the 3800 block of West Van Buren Street. On Thursday, after a Bible study in the home, Jones stabbed Willingham with a samurai-knife “at least 35 times,” wrote The Chicago Sun-Times. Some of the stab wounds pierced her heart and lungs. The Chicago Sun-Times also reported that some of the stab wounds were vicious enough to have “cut through” Willingham’s body. 

Willingham’s remains were discovered by her daughter, said Dracopoulos. Jones fled the scene with Willingham’s phone and bank envelopes of cash. Jones was allegedly captured on a home security camera, identified as wearing distinctive red shoes and carrying a red bag, although his face was not visible in the recording. 


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The suspect was arrested five hours later. The police found him with disabled pieces of a handgun, a knife, loose currency, and bank envelopes. The envelopes contained $525, stated the Sun-Times. The samurai-knife was not located when Jones’ was apprehended but it was reported that he admitted to killing Willingham and that the blood covering his body was hers. 

Greg LaPapa, Jones’s attorney, argued that his face was not seen on the recording taken from the Willingham family home’s security camera and that his client worked for a Ross store and was trying to get his GED.  Jones was found wearing the same clothing when he was arrested five hours later. He reportedly appeared to be reaching for a gun at the time of his arrest.

The Cook County Judge Susana Ortiz denied Jones’ bail, citing the “viciousness” of his crimes. 

Bellwood is a small, historic suburb of Chicago, Illinois, incorporated in 1900, and is part of the agricultural history of the greater Chicago region. It is approximately 13 miles west of what is considered the main section of Downtown Chicago. The murder of an elderly woman in the proximity of this community had a significant impact on locals contributing to Jones’s bail being denied April 4.

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