3 Men, Few Clues, And A Murdered Model Rock an Illinois Town
When a young woman is brutally murdered in rural Illinois, police realized that there was more than one person in her life who may have wanted to hurt her.
Sarah Washington was a 25-year-old certified nursing assistant in Kankakee, Illinois, with plans to become a model in Chicago when she met a violent end in her quiet neighborhood.
On June 16, 2014, Sarah’s neighbor, Trice Harris, was in her kitchen around 1 p.m. when she heard a loud pop. Nothing appeared wrong on the warm, summer day when she peered out the window. It was quiet at the home next door where Harris knew Washington would be sleeping after working her overnight shift at the local hospital.
It was hours before Harris realized just how wrong things were in her tranquil neighborhood.
Around 4:30 p.m. Washington's mother, Kathy Gates, arrived to drive her daughter to work. She blew the horn, but her daughter didn’t emerge from her home. After she knocked on the door to no answer, she tried the doorknob and entered through the unlocked door.
Gates found her daughter upstairs in her bedroom. At first, it appeared that the young woman had rolled out of bed and stayed asleep on the floor but as Gates stroked her daughter’s cheek to wake her, she realized that Sarah had been shot between the eyes.
“My heart dropped. I was terrified,” she recalled.
An Unclear Motive
Trice, the neighbor who saw nothing amiss when she looked out her window at 1 p.m., heard another sound that evening—it was Gates screaming
Police were called to the scene and observed a pillow on the bed had bullet holes and blood on it. There were shell casings near Sarah’s body, and her purse was on the bed. Investigators quickly ruled out robbery as a motive—her credit card wasn’t missing, and there was a large pile of cash on the floor.
The killer left behind two clues: a pair of men’s underwear on the bathroom floor, and an old-fashioned key to room 220 in an unnamed hotel. The underwear led authorities to believe that Sarah probably knew her killer.
Investigators wanted to talk to Sarah’s on-again-off-again boyfriend, Greg Dismuke, but they soon found out he wasn’t the only man in Sarah’s life. There was also Greg’s friend, Rex Frank, and a co-worker named Kevin.
Alibis and Interviews
Sarah’s relationship with Dismuke was rocky at the time of her murder, and her family and friends considered him to be bad news. He was possessive of Sarah’s time and had a violent streak. Police found it odd that he didn’t come to the crime scene to be with Sarah’s family, and he wouldn’t answer phone calls from investigators.
He did, however, show up to the police station to try to clear his name. He told investigators it was his underwear on the bathroom floor because he’d spent the previous night, but he said he left that morning after Sarah got off work and then went to Chicago for the day.
He loved her, Dismuke insisted. He claimed he wouldn’t have killed her. The police were suspicious but didn’t have enough evidence to arrest him.
Frank also appeared at the police station to clear his name. He told police that he was concerned Dismuke had something to do with Sarah’s murder. The man’s story appeared genuine, but they still considered him and Dismuke suspects.
Kevin, the coworker, was at work when Sarah was murdered. He was excluded from the list of suspects immediately.
Nine days after Sarah’s murder, another victim, Rian Maiden, was found shot dead in his home.
Learn the identity of the killer in Kankakee on Murder in the Heartland Episode 407 “Whispered Warnings” premiering on ID on May 2 at 9/8c. Other episodes are available now on discovery+.