A Cook County Criminal Court judge this week denied bail for Frederick Walker, the 23-year-old man accused of murdering a Homewood resident and then setting fire to his home to cover up the crime.
Walker was ordered held without bond by Judge Luciano Panici when he appeared in a Markham courtroom on Feb. 26, after Assistant State’s Attorney Rivanda Doss laid out early details of the case.
According to documents provided by the State’s Attorney’s Office, Walker was originally sent to the home of 78-year-old James Kerrigan as an employee of Homewatch CareGivers. The company has a franchise location in Hickory Hills, near Walker’s hometown of Justice. Walker was assigned to assist Kerrigan on two separate days as he recovered from surgery.
On Feb. 14, Walker went to Kerrigan’s house to get a time sheet signed. Shortly after that visit, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office, Kerrigan reported a theft at his home to authorities, naming Walker as the suspect.
Almost a week later, on Feb. 20, Homewood Fire Department responded to a fire at Kerrigan’s home in the 1000 block of 185th Street. After they extinguished the fire, firefighters discovered Kerrigan in an upstairs bedroom. He was dead, with multiple stab wounds around his body, head and neck.
An autopsy by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office determined Kerrigan died of homicide due to the numerous stab wounds. Prosecutors said there was no soot found in Kerrigan’s lungs or throat, indicating that he died prior to the fire being set.
According to documents from the State’s Attorney’s Office, prosecutors are contending that Walker stabbed Kerrigan with a serrated kitchen knife that police later found near Kerrigan’s backyard fence, allegedly tainted with the victim’s blood.
Police also found two sets of shoeprints in the snow on the outside of Kerrigan’s back fence. One set, prosecutors believe, came from a pair of red dress shoes that Walker was wearing when he turned himself in to Homewood police on Feb. 23. The other set of prints they say came from a pair of Nike gym shoes found in Walker’s car after it was seized by police for evidence. Those shoes tested positive for the presence of blood.
According to the State’s Attorney, this was the timeline of events on Feb. 20.
- 5:42 p.m. Video evidence from near Kerrigan’s home shows Walker’s vehicle traveling away from the home.
- 7:45 p.m. Illinois Tollway records show Walker’s vehicle traveling southbound on the tollway toward Homewood.
- 8:46 p.m. Homewood Fire Department receives an emergency call about fire at Kerrigan’s residence.
- 8:55 p.m. Tollway records show Walker traveling northbound on the tollway, away from Homewood.
Witnesses who spoke with police said they saw blood on Walker’s person on the evening of Feb. 20, the day Kerrigan was killed. According to prosecutors, Walker told these witnesses that during a drug sale, he had stabbed a buyer who had threatened him with a knife.
According to these witnesses, Walker asked them to take his car for a few days, a request they refused. Later, Walker sent the witnesses a SnapChat of himself cleaning his car, prosecutors say.
On Feb. 23, when Walker turned himself in to Homewood police, he stated he did not know Kerrigan was dead and denied any knowledge of his murder. However, According to the State’s Attorney’s Office, Walker admitted to police that he started the fire.
Then he consented to a forensic examination of his cell phone, which revealed that a little more than an hour after Homewood firefighters responded to the call at Kerrigan’s house, Walker had used his phone to search Google for “Homewood Patch Breaking News” and “Homewood Flossmoor Police and Fire.”
On Feb. 21, the day after the fire and before Walker was questioned by investigators, he conducted several searches with the keywords “man found dead Homewood.” Walker’s next court appearance is set for March 18 at the Markham courthouse.
- Caregiver company responds to employee’s murder charge (March 1, 2019)
- Murder charge in Kerrigan death filed against man, 23, who was caregiver (Feb. 25, 2019)
- Kerrigan death ruled a homicide (Feb. 22, 2019)