Sentencing today in murder of parents of ex-CLTV host
November 16, 2010 4:09 AM
Gregory Brooks, 19, admitted last month to the slayings of Ruby McClendon, 76, and Milton McClendon, 78, both of Hammond.
He faces 45 to 130 years in prison and will appear before Lake County (Ind.) Superior Court Judge Clarence Murray.
The McClendons’ bodies were found Oct. 19 in a Cook County forest preserve near south suburban Calumet City. Both had been shot, Milton McClendon numerous times, his wife once in the head.
The couple’s Cadillac was found abandoned on the Dan Ryan Expressway two days later. Police said they found the McClendons’ home in the 1000 block of Field Street in Hammond ransacked and covered in blood.
According to court filings, about 10:30 p.m. Oct. 18, 2009, the teens, who had been scoping out the McClendons’ neighborhood for robbery, knocked on their door and gave Milton McClendon a phony story about car trouble, the Gary Post-Tribune reported when Thompson entered his guilty plea. They forced their way inside, held the couple at gunpoint, and demanded cash and valuables.
Ruby McClendon handed over $50 and car keys from her purse. Brooks locked her in a foyer closet by bracing a table against the door.
The teens forced Milton McClendon to crawl up to his bedroom, where Thompson hit him in the head with a vase, leaving him bleeding and dizzy. The teens then found some gold jewelry and a small handgun in a dresser, and Milton McClendon gave them some jewelry and said he had a long-nose .22 rifle.
After searching the other bedrooms and the downstairs for valuables, they forced Milton McClendon into a basement bathroom, where they wedged a ladder against the door, and searched for more items to steal. They made off with cash, jewelry, the couple’s cell phone and two guns.
Thompson and Brooks took off in the couple’s 1997 Cadillac, but they decided to return to “finish them” because they knew the McClendons had seen their faces. They forced the couple into the trunk and drove to Wolf Lake. Brooks went inside a nearby a gas station, then they drove back to Thompson’s home, where they left the car nearby in an abandoned garage.
Later, they drove to an area near 154th Street and Pulaski Road in Calumet City, Ill., where they shot Milton McClendon in the right forearm, left shoulder, right upper back and head and shot Ruby McClendon in the head. The couple’s bodies were found Oct. 19, 2009.
The plea agreement doesn’t say which teen fired the fatal shots, but that their joint participation in the crimes ensured the deaths of the couple.
Hammond police found Milton McClendon’s Army retirement watch, engraved with his name, in Thompson’s bedroom.
When Brooks was arrested in Chicago, he was wearing a gold bracelet with the names of the couple’s children and grandchildren engraved on the links.
Lake Superior Court Judge Clarence Murray accepted the plea agreement and scheduled a Nov. 18 sentencing hearing. Like Brooks, Thompson faces 45 to 130 years in prison.
After the hearing, two of the couple’s three sons spoke to reporters. “We’re happy that justice was served,” Theodore McClendon said. “It’s only by virtue of Reo Thompson’s age that he won’t get the death penalty and we understood that months ago.”
Thompson was 17 at the time, Brooks 18.
Former CLTV talk show host Garrard McClendon said he was glad the family didn’t have to endure a jury trial.