Monday, April 23, 2012

Ex-Bloomington Police officer found to be serial rapist

            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. <>.

"Timeline of the Jeff Pelo Case." Http:// Journal Star, 18 June 2008. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <>.

Smedley, Steve. "Ex-police Sergeant Convicted in 4 Rapes." USA Today. Gannett, 18 June 2008. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. <>.


  1. This was a very well written and interesting article. I first learned about Jeff Pelo in one of my other criminal justice courses and I have been fascinated by his story ever since. My teacher is part of the Bloomington Police force and he actually had the chance to work with Pelo personally. He said that everybody in the department could not believe it when the information that showed that Pelo was guilty was shown. Personally, I am amazed that the type of person he was considering the record he had on the police force. In addition, I feel remorse for all of the women that this man has negatively affected.

  2. Having grown up in Peoria IL just 45 minutes West of here i had heard about the case at the time. I remember thinking how disgusting and disturbing it was for a police officer to be raping women. THe police is supposed to be the good guys and bust sick criminals like this there not supposed to be the ones doing it! Very well written article.

  3. Wow this article is pretty hard to read because you don't want to believe that something like this actually happens. This is actually my first time reading about this and it makes you kind of wonder how this person was able to obtain a job as an officer. Maybe that means that there should be more strict guidelines that prevent something like this from ever happening. Its terrible that something like this ever had to happen but it is good that he was prosecuted and got the sentence that he deserved.

  4. It is crazy to think that this man used to work in our town. It is also scary to think that the person in charge of our safety, is going out and doing terrible things like this. Since we are all in the Criminal Justice major, it is known that there are no psychiatric evaluations in order to be accepted and approved to work in a field with so much power and discretion is involved. Stories like these make me think that the police hiring process should be a little more detailed than it is right now.

  5. How many times is it "always the person you least expect?" It upsets me beyond belief to hear about serial rapists, but when it is someone so near to where you work and live it really hits home. The worst is the fact he was someone who was supposed to uphold the law. Serve and protect the citizens. This is unfortunately another reason the public will have a negative view about police officers. Hypocritical atrocities happening in the town that they live in.

  6. I first heard of this topic in one of my other criminal justice classes. This is a very disturbing topic to learn about. It is even more disturbing that it had happened right here in Bloomington. It is creepy to know that one of my teachers had actually worked with him, and never noticed anything suspicious. This is just an overall unfortunate event that may hopefully not give Bloomington a negative reputation. Things like this will happen, but as any criminal justice system we need to do whatever it takes to limit these certain situations.

  7. I too heard about this from both being from around the area and in other criminal justice classes. The two things that stick out most in my mind was the fact that he was turned in by another officer and that the judge gave him a huge sentence. I feel that the judge was trying to send a message to not only Pelo, but the public that this kind of behavior would not be tolerated and that no one is above the law.

    1. He wasn't "turned in". The officer was simply responding to a call for service and found Pelo standing there.

  8. This was a very well written article. I think this man is sick, and it's a shame he got away with his crimes for as long as he did. Unfortunately the system is not perfect. 17 years ago their wasn't as much detailed background checks, and psychiatric testing, prior to hiring new officers. This was a sad and unfortunate case, but in my mind could happen to any department. I am glad to see police departments doing thorough background checks nowadays. Lets hope issues like this become less and less, and maybe never in the future.

  9. It is scary to think that men like this can end up on the force like him. To think that this man slipped through the cracks shows the type of flawed system we live in. I live in Chicago with one of the most corrupt departments in my opinion. Corruption is something that is sometimes swept under the rug but to have a rapist who terrorized so many women is really scary. These men take an oath to serve and protect the public but this man used his position of power to commit his crimes. He used his knowledge to clean up the crime areas. I am positive that if they did back far enough they will find warning signs of this man. It is good that the officer on the scene of the 911 call didn't ignore the fact that he was out there. It is always shocking when something like this is close to where we lay our heads. I am not naive to things like this; I keep my door locked all the time. We are very vulnerable in a college town like this.

  10. One can only hope that this may never ever ever happen again ever

  11. One can only hope that this may never ever ever happen again ever

  12. Excellent article, except for factual errors.

    "...there were other factors that lead to Jeff being convicted for the murder of those four women."

    He was never convicted of any murders. He sure is a slime though.

  13. There were no murders. Sloppy writing by the author and editor.