JOLIET, IL -- Before he dumped his mother's body into the Des Plaines River, Charles McCullum choked her, stabbed her so hard with one knife the blade bent, plunged a second knife into her repeatedly, and then used a baseball bat to hammer it into her her body until the handle broke, a prosecutor said during a Friday afternoon hearing.
McCullum, 21, appeared at the hearing via a closed-circuit broadcast from the Will County jail. His father, Charles McCullum Sr., stood up and stepped forward when his son came on the screen.
Another man in the gallery was ejected from the courtroom and ordered out of the courthouse after shouting an obscenity when McCullum's hearing started. About a half dozen other spectators followed the man from the courtroom.
Judge Roger Rickmon set bail at $5 million after listening to Assistant State's Attorney Peter Wilkes run through what McCullum allegedly did to get charged with the murder of his mother, 54-year-old Jeanie Parker.
Wilkes said McCullum made a videotaped statement to detectives with the Joliet police and told them that from Wednesday evening into Thursday morning, he had become "upset" with his mother, so he strangled her and left her in the house.
When he returned and saw she was still alive, Wilkes said, he stuck a knife in her but the blade bent inside her body. McCullum then took another knife and stabbed his mother repeatedly, Wilkes said.
Believing she was still alive, McCullum got his hands on a baseball bat and used it to pound the knife into Parker's body until its handle broke, Wilkes said.
McCullum then dragged his mother from her bedroom down to the garage of their 118 Fifth Ave. home, Wilkes said. He loaded Parker into her car and drove her around a while before heading for the river, then pulled her out and dropped her in the water, the prosecutor said.
Parker's body remains missing. Joliet police Cmdr. Brian Benton said McCullum told detectives he put his mother in the water south of the Jefferson Street Bridge. Fire Department divers and a Chicago Police Department helicopter were employed in Friday's search, Benton said.
A neighbor, concerned by McCullum's erratic behavior and the fact she did not see Parker Thursday morning as she always had in mornings past, called police, Wilkes said. Officers arrived and followed a blood trail from the garage to Parker's bedroom, where they found blood on the floor, the walls, a television stand and on curtains, the prosecutor said.
Police determined that one resident of Parker's home, McCullum's brother Antwone McCullum, 26, had been and still was in the hospital, Wilkes said. Officers later found Charles McCullum driving his mother's Dodge and took him into custody, he said.
Public defender Kurt Leinweber warned McCullum not to talk to anyone at the county jail and told him an investigator from his office would be over to interview him.
As the hearing ended, Charles McCullum Sr. asked Judge Rickmon for permission to speak. Rickmon refused the request, but the older McCullum still shouted to his son that he loved him.