Family members of victims react to suspects’ not guilty plea to Hickory Street slayings
By Cindy Cain and Janet Lundquist Staff Writers February 5, 2013 10:16AM
Updated: March 7, 2013 6:23AM
Heather Gossman should have been making final plans for her Valentine’s Day wedding this month to her fiancé, Eric Glover.
Instead, on Tuesday morning she stood in a hallway at the Will County Courthouse with tears streaming down her face.
Gossman, of Joliet, said she had to be in the courtroom as four people accused of strangling Glover and Terrance Rankins on Jan. 10 pleaded not guilty to murder charges.
“I wanted them to see my face,” she said of the accused. “They took away my, my … everything. I wanted them to see what they did to me.”
Glover proposed to the 23-year-old Gossman a year ago on Valentine’s Day in the home the couple shared. She said he got down on one knee and gave her a sapphire engagement ring. Gossman wore that ring on a chain around her neck during Tuesday’s hearing.
“It’s horrible, it’s like a nightmare that won’t go away,” she said after the hearing. “Every day I wake up and my bed is empty.”
Not guilty pleas
Adam Landerman, 19, Joliet; Alisa Massaro, 18, Joliet; Bethany McKee, 18, Shorewood; and Joshua Miner, 24, Joliet, pleaded not guilty to the charges before Judge Gerald Kinney and were given a new court date of March 1.
All four are accused of robbing and killing Glover, 22, and Rankins, 22, both of Joliet, during a party at Massaro’s house at 1121 N. Hickory St.
The four suspects were led into a packed courtroom beefed up with additional sheriff’s deputies and bailiffs.
They sat far apart in the jury box and did not communicate with each other.
Miner looked over as Landerman was led into the room, then looked down and shook his head.
Massaro looked down at the back of the chair in front of her, rubbing one thumb across the other thumb with her hands clasped.
Wrong place, wrong time
Outside the courtroom, a crowd of the victims’ friends and family stood in the hallway talking quietly.
Justin Cobbs, 25, of Joliet, had known Glover since junior high. He couldn’t bring himself to go into the courtroom. so he stayed outside in the hallway where friends and family supported each other.
“It’s family,” Cobbs said. “It touches home.”
After the court appearance, Rankins’ mother, Jamille Kent, sat on a hallway bench and sobbed.
It was hard for Kizzy Dyson, who said she was close friends with both Glover and Rankins, to see the four suspects in person.
“A little anger, hurt. I want to know why,” she said. “I don’t understand.”
Their friendship goes back four years, she said. The men came to her house daily, yet she never heard them mention any of the four people accused of killing them.
“I have no idea how they knew them,” Dyson said. “They had to be new friends. That’s why everybody’s confused.”
Gossman said Glover didn’t know the four people accused of his murder.
“He was just helping a friend out at the time,” she said. “Wrong place, wrong time.”
The night Glover didn’t come home, Gossman looked for him and kept calling his phone. When she saw an online news article about police finding two men dead in the Hickory Street home, she knew the worst had happened.
She met Glover when she attended some of his semi-pro football games.
“We just got to talking. He was funny, a real down-to-earth guy. He genuinely cared.”
Joliet police were alerted to trouble at Massaro’s house by the Shorewood Police Department.
Before 4 p.m. that day, McKee’s father, William McKee, had phoned police in Shorewood. Bethany had called and told him what had happened at the house, McKee confirmed Tuesday.
Joliet police arrived to find a scene Joliet Police Chief Mike Trafton later called, “one of the most brutal, heinous and upsetting” he’s ever witnessed.
Police say when they walked into the house they surprised Landerman, Massaro and Miner, who were playing video games. McKee had left the house, and police stopped her about 90 minutes later.
According to authorities, the suspects had planned to dismember the bodies to conceal the crime.
Wedding plans dashed
Gossman said she will probably spend what would have been her wedding day in bed mourning the loss of Glover. She worries about her daughter, who was 3-months old when Gossman and Glover started dating.
“That was who she knew as dad,” she said. “It just hurts to sit there (when my daughter asks), where’s my daddy? And how do you explain to her, ‘Your daddy ain’t coming back?’”
Still, her sadness won’t prevent her from going to future court hearings.
“I will be here every day, all day.”