Boyfriend charged in slaying of Chicago Heights woman
BY CASEY TONER firstname.lastname@example.org July 26, 2012 2:40PM
Updated: August 28, 2012 6:18AM
More than four months after Michele Peters was found shot to death at her Chicago Heights home, her boyfriend has been charged with her murder.
George Kleopa, 32, was charged Tuesday, and Cook County Circuit Court Judge Darron Bowden on Wednesday set his bail at $2 million at a hearing at the Markham courthouse.
“It’s a relief, but it’s also a reality check,” Peters’ mother, Catherine Peters, said. “It’s like it happened all over again. It’s real now that charges have been brought. I thought in the back of my head it was an accident. I know now it wasn’t an accident.”
Catherine Peters said her daughter was killed March 6 at her home in the 100 block of West Hickory Street. The couple lived together 14 years, had two children and were having personal and financial problems, with Michele preparing to leave Kleopa, she said.
“I think he realized she was done, this was the last straw,” said Peters, of Hickory Hills. “And there was no way she was walking out with her kids. And she didn’t.”
A witness heard Michele and Kleopa arguing about Kleopa seeing another woman, and Kleopa shot Michele in the head, killing her about 10 p.m. and then calling 911 to report that Michele shot herself, prosecutors said.
Kleopa first told police that he asked Michele to bring him his gun — a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol — to clean it and it accidentally fired. But police couldn’t find a gun-cleaning kit. Kleopa later changed his story, saying he asked Michele to bring him his gun and it accidentally discharged, prosecutors said.
They said a forensics study by Illinois State Police determined that the gun’s trigger would need 6 pounds of pressure and all three gun safeties would have to be off for it to fire accidentally.
Catherine Peters said the charges have brought some closure, but “this is never going to go away. I’ll always have a hole in my heart.”
Peters wears a pin of her two grandsons whom she said are in the custody of Kleopa’s sisters. She said she’s trying to get custody of them now that Kleopa has been charged with murder.
“(Michele and I) have a bond that’s still not broken,” Peters said. “It will never break. I know she’s the one that has given me the strength to hold it together and raise her boys in a healthy, happy environment.”