Jurors in Christopher Vaughn murder case will get to hear cryptic poem
By JON SEIDEL Sun-Times Media August 15, 2012 7:44PM
Christopher Vaughn leaves the Will County Courthouse in June. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
Here is a translated version of a coded poem prosecutors said was found in Christopher Vaughn’s jail cell:
My Earls List.
Insurance money for niece and nephew
Tell mom and dad Eric and Adam how they
truely mean to me.
Help mom and dad build the cabin.
Jeep jamboree in Alaska with dad.
Apologize to Christi Rathmell.
Pay my debts and never use credit cards or
Visit Jackie and Patty in Ka and
Tony and Renda in Tekas.
Ask maya the quesion.
See both sunset and sunrise the same day.
Updated: September 17, 2012 1:04PM
Christopher Vaughn’s prosecutors will get to show his jury a cryptic poem — part of a coded journal allegedly taken from his cell in fall 2007 — that they say makes reference to a dancer he met at a Chicago strip club.
But Vaughn’s defense attorneys apparently want to show jurors a lot more. They withdrew their objection to prosecutors’ use of the journal when they appeared Wednesday before Judge Daniel Rozak. And they called Vaughn’s journal “fair game.”
Prosecutors said the poem, discovered just four months after police found Vaughn’s wife and three children gunned down in the family SUV, appears to be a list of things to do, including “ask maya the question.”
They believe that’s a reference to a dancer Vaughn met at a gentlemen’s club in Chicago who they said was an “unwitting” part of Vaughn’s plan to start a new life. They said his poem is an admission he planned to reach out to her one day.
Vaughn’s wife, Kimberly, and their three children — Abigayle, 12; Cassandra, 11; and Blake, 8 — were found shot to death June 14, 2007, in their SUV, parked on a frontage road west of Interstate 55. Vaughn had minor gunshot wounds on his leg and wrist and claimed his wife had shot him. He said Kimberly turned the gun on their children and shot herself after he fled the car.
He said Kimberly was angry at him the day of the shootings because he had confessed an affair. And his attorneys plan to tell jurors about Topamax, an anti-seizure drug taken by Kimberly when she died. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned it could increase the risk of suicidal behavior.
Investigators didn’t buy it, though. Within days of the shootings Vaughn was charged with all four murders. Prosecutors have said Vaughn might have wanted to leave his suburban life behind and go live in the Canadian wilderness. His wife also had a $1 million life insurance policy that listed him as a beneficiary.
The coded poem was discovered in Vaughn’s jail cell on Oct. 16, 2007. Prosecutors said it’s written in a coded alphabet decrypted by the FBI, but attorneys told the judge Wednesday a key to the code was found inside.
Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Fitzgerald said he only plans to show jurors 15 lines out of Vaughn’s journal. Defense attorney George Lenard said he’d like to show them more.
However, he and Fitzgerald acknowledged a previous court order barring them from talking to the jury about Vaughn’s religious beliefs — including any purported belief in Druidism — that are apparently mentioned in the journal.
“We’re not planning to get into the religious aspects,” Lenard said.
The dancer allegedly mentioned in Vaughn’s poem previously told investigators Vaughn visited her at the gentlemen’s club several times, according to court records. She said she had several conversations with him where he shared his plans to divorce his wife and move to Canada. She said he also gave her a poem about “ancient souls” and bad timing.
She turned it over to police.
Lawyers have said Vaughn also visited another dancer who said Vaughn spent “large sums of money” at Scores in Stone Park and lied about being a single man from Naperville. She said he gave her a strange feeling and made comments about “knowing what would happen in the future.”