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Accounts Differ 

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I read with interest your recent article on Thomas Yancey ["This Man Is Not a Sexual Predator," October 21]. The first time I met him he had a gun pointed at me; the last time was when he was sentenced to prison for robbing me.

I have no quarrel with his parole, and I would agree that requiring him to register as a sex offender is "piling on." But your readers deserve a less varnished account of the murder he committed. That can be found in a 1977 opinion of the U.S. District Court of Appeals: "Briefly, the victim, fifteen-year-old William Wilkerson, was shot in the chest and shown (superficially wounded but alive) by Yancey and his codefendant, Brown, to two juveniles, Dickens and Parks, in the eleventh-floor laundry room of a Chicago Housing Authority building. Brown instructed Dickens and Parks to tie up Wilkerson and stop the elevators between the eleventh and twelfth floors. Yancey and Brown dragged Wilkerson toward the elevator shaft, but he struggled so that, rather than being thrown down the shaft, he was returned to the laundry room. Yancey and Brown then unsuccessfully attempted to kill Wilkerson by placing a broom handle over his neck and stepping on it and by strangling him with a stocking. Wilkerson was eventually killed by one gunshot to the temple and his body thrown down the elevator shaft, where it was later discovered." The full opinion can be found at http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=7th&navby=case&no=961 977.

Charles W. Upton

Stephen Young and Bryan Brickner reply:

We were aware of the gruesome details described by the judge in Thomas Yancey's appeal. Yancey took responsibility for the murder, but he disputed the claim that he and Brown had tried to strangle Wilkerson or throw him down an elevator shaft while he was still alive. The pathology report issued by Cook County coroner Andrew Toman in 1974 supports Yancey's contention that he and Brown didn't try to strangle Wilkerson: "There is no evidence of injuries to the superficial and deep tissues surrounding the neck structures." The damage done by three bullets is listed precisely, but the report also states, "Other forms of traumatic abnormality is [sic] represented by minor abrasions involving the right cheek, left knee and medial aspect of the right knee region." These are not the kinds of injuries that would be caused by putting a broom handle over Wilkerson's neck and stepping on it or trying to strangle him with a stocking, and no other injuries are described in the report. We didn't discuss these discrepancies in our story because we decided that whatever level of brutality was involved in the murder, it was irrelevant to the question at hand: whether or not Yancey should be labeled a sex offender.

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