When we think of police officer, we often associate them with the job of “to serve and protect.” But what happens when they are the complete opposite of protect and serve, what if they are in fact the person committing the crimes and harming other people? What is even more disturbing is that we hear about cruciate police, but we never think it is happening close to us. In 2005, even Bloomington/Normal got the realization that corrupt/cruciate police are everywhere, but the extent of the corruption was shocking to even the department.
Jeffery Pelo had been an officer for seventeen years, a seemly devoted father of three and husband. In 2008, at the age of forty-three, Jeff was found guilty on 35 counts, which included 28 counts of aggregated criminal sexual assault and a count attempted burglary for the rape of four women. Though there was limited physical evidence and no DNA evidence, there were other factors that lead to Jeff being convicted for the murder of those four women.
What initially got the ball rolling in considering Jeff as a suspect was a 911 call made by Jonelle Galuska, who said she had been living in fear because she had felt she was being watched. That night she was awaken by her startled dog and then heard a loud urgent knock so she called the cops. Bloomington police officer Dave Zeamer responded to the call and at 1 a.m, upon arriving at the destination found a man standing up against the Jonelle’s house. When he flashed his flashlight, the intruder turned to walk away, and after being told to stop continued to try to flee, until the officer yelled again for him to stop. Once Jeff turned around Zeamer immediately recognized him from work. "You got that relief of, 'Oh, it's Pelo.' But then you are like, 'Wait a minute, it's Pelo. What's he doing out here?'" Zeamer said.
Jeff was arrested and questioned, where he said that he was out looking the lake and house-hunting when he was spotted outside Jonelles home. The problem with that was that her home was not for sale and it was one in the morning, which is obviously not a good time to house-hunt for various reasons. The four rapes occurred between 2002 and 2005, and the similarities were almost identical. Most victims described him and trying to being loving and gentle, almost boyfriend-like. In all cases he wore a ski mask and gloves. All of the first three women said that he duck taped and zip-tied them and then put a pillowcase over their heads. After raping them, he would make them take a long soak in the bathtub and bathe themselves thoroughly while he cleared the house of any evidence, which included sheets, pillow cases, etc. Not only did this prove to be the work of a professional, but upon investigating Pelo other incriminating evidence was found.
Detectives found that Pelo's police computer had been used to run license plate searches on three of the victims. Though, Jeff Pelo denied having been the one to do it, claiming that someone else must have been using his computer terminal. Then a search of his home revealed a ski mask and jacket, in which the fibers on the ski mask were a match for those found on the duct tape used to bind one of the victims. He was also identified by three of the victims, despite the mask, and his voice by one victim. One victim commented, "When you're staring into those eyes and that's the only thing you can see and the only thing you can focus on, they stick with you." An officer on the case remembered, “"Victims described how [the rapist] would pull some of the items around from his belt. You know, the gloves that they described were consistent with what police officers or security officers commonly wear.”
Jeffery Pelo is currently serving one of the longest sentences in Illinois. He was facing a minimum of life in prison and once found guilty on all counts sentenced to 440 years in prison.
AVILA, JIM, ALISON LYNN, and LAUREN PEARLE. "Police Sergeant Doubled as Serial Rapist." ABC News. ABC News Network, 19 Dec. 2008. Web. 16 Apr. 2012. <http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=6467266>.
"Timeline of the Jeff Pelo Case." Http://www.pjstar.com. Journal Star, 18 June 2008. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <http://www.pjstar.com/news/x833714097/Timeline-of-the-Jeff-Pelo-case>.
Smedley, Steve. "Ex-police Sergeant Convicted in 4 Rapes." USA Today. Gannett, 18 June 2008. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. <http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-06-18-ill-sgt_N.htm>.