July 6, 1986, newlyweds Dyke and Karen Rhoads are found murdered in their bedroom, stabbed a total of over fifty times. Two local barflies, Randy Steidl and Herb Whitlock are convicted of their murders in June 1987. Two unbelievable eyewitnesses, the town drunk and a self-admitted drug addict and alcoholic with a history of mental illness are the state's main witnesses.
April 2000, with rumblings from the Innocence project and an impending episode on 48 Hours, it causes deep concern in the corrupt administration of Governor George Ryan and the politically compromised State Police command. Investigations Commander, Lieutenant Michale Callahan is assigned to review the fourteen year old murder.
May 2, 2000, Callahan's review discloses suspicions of police and prosecutorial misconduct, intimidation, a manipulation of the truth, evidence favorable to the defense that was never disclosed, that the eyewitnesses had lied in their testimonies and that other viable suspects were purposefully ignored in the original investigation. One a powerful millionaire tied to the governor through political campaign contributions. Callahan and his Captain are told by their Lt, Colonel, they cannot reinvestigate the case, it's "too politically sensitive."
April - August, 2001, Callahan continues to look at the homicide anyway and gathers more information, with support from his new commander, a Major and a Sergeant , they go forward twice more to get permission to reinvestigate the double murder and are again told, its "too politically sensitive" by their Lt, Colonel. Refusing to take no for an answer, Callahan's major asks for a Rhoads Homicide assessment to be completed by the Intelligence Division and visits a Forensics lab to inquire about DNA testing in the case. Two weeks later, the major is called in to Springfield by the Lt. Colonel and relieved of her command. The major is told she has a communication problem.
November, 2001, Callahan's new Captain comes in and he is told to cease and desist on continuing to try and look at the Rhoads homicide.
January 2003, Governor George Ryan is leaving office under a cloud of corruption and an ongoing federal investigation. As a possible detraction, he sets January 11, 2003 as a date to address the death penalty issue in the State of Illinois. Callahan meets with his ISP upper command once again to voice his belief the two men were railroaded into prison. Clemency is given to Steidl and Whitlock by the governor and then mysteriously "taken off the table," after Callahan meets with his command.
January - March 2003, A new governor, Rod Blagojevich, has been elected on a platform that he is going to clean up corruption in Illinois politics. Callahan is told he can initiate an investigation into several unsolved homicides in the Paris area, including the Rhoads homicide. He garners federal interest in a joint federal/state task force to include the U.S Attorney's Office, FBI, IRS, ATF, DEA, and other state agencies.
Paris not only has a history of unsolved murders and other violent crimes, it is home to the Son's of Silence motorcycle gang and has associations to the Sicilian Mafia and the infamous Pizza Connection case. The Pizza Connection case, was a nine year federal investigation into a 1.6 billion dollar a year money laundering and heroin trafficking conspiracy between the Sicilian Mafia and the New York based Bonanno crime family. Ma and Pa Pizza Parlors throughout small towns in Illinois were utilized to launder money, one of men arrested in the Pizza Connection case owned Joe's Pizza in Paris, Illinois.
March 2003, Callahan learns his Lt. Colonel and Captain, the same two who have impeded the Rhoads homicide for almost three years, is secretly trying to transfer him to patrol. Other suspicions and concerns arise that the Captain is interfering in the task force investigation. The concerns are shared by an FBI agent.
Information comes in that calls are being made to a pay phone in Italy about a murder and narcotics trafficking. Callahan's Captain, who lives just outside of Paris, visits the restaurant from where the FBI and DEA say phone calls are being intercepted. The FBI agent hears the Captain admit his visit to the restaurant and pushes Callahan to go to his Division of Internal Investigation (DII). Callahan no longer trusts his command or DII and puts it off. A week later, the phone calls to Italy stop.
April 2003, Callahan and a sergeant research the old Pizza Connection case and learn even more disturbing information about the Captain and take this to the FBI agent who again pushes Callahan to go to his internal investigations.
April 22, 2003, Callahan makes allegations against the Captain to the head of internal investigations. On May 1, 2003, the FBI agent supports Callahan's concerns to the State Police's internal investigations. No reports are made of the meeting with the FBI. May 8, 2003, Callahan is called in by DII and he makes allegations against both his Captain and Lt Colonel for impeding a criminal investigation for over three years and other concerns. No report is made of the meeting. Callahan's allegations of misconduct are leaked to his commanders.
June 16, 2003, Callahan is transferred to patrol effective immediately for allegedly causing problems.
June 17, 2003, Federal Judge Michael McCuskey orders the State of Illinois to retry Randy Steidl or free him based on "acquittal was reasonably certain if the jury had heard all of the facts."
June 25, 2003, Callahan meets with the Attorney General's office and discloses the ISP's misconduct and impeding of the Rhoads homicide. The Attorney General ignores Callahan's allegations.
September 2003, Callahan files a First Amendment law suit against his ISP command for retaliation in violating his freedom of speech in speaking out on a matter of public concern.
May 8, 2004, The Attorney General and Appellate Prosecutor refuse to retry Steidl based on "evidence favorable to the defense was never disclosed" and he is freed after 17 years in prison, 12 of those on Death Row.
The cover up continues and Callahan is replaced by a Captain in the "renewed" Rhoads investigation. The Captain, recently suspended for misconduct and lying focuses in on only trying to put Steidl back in prison and keep Herb Whitlock there, he tells the Rhoads family, "we want to make sure we keep those two scumbags in prison."
April 2005, Callahan's First Amendment trial starts, the ISP top command are caught in blatant deceit and hypocrisy in a two week trial. The jury decides Callahan was retaliated against and the federal judge concurs in what he would refer to as a "remarkably successful case" against the state. Governor Blagojevich publicly calls for an investigation by the Inspector General. No investigation is ever initiated.
June 2005, Herb Whitlock is denied a new trial by an Edgar County judge in Paris, Illinois.
May 30, 2006, pushed by the George W. Bush administration the United States Supreme Court limits the freedom of speech of government employees speaking out on misconduct in a California case called Garcetti v. Ceballos. The ruling, "When public employees make statements pursuant to their official duties, they are not speaking as citizens for First Amendment purposes, and the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline." The State of Illinois, rich in corruption appeals Callahan's case based on this ruling, a state that definitely wants to silence its honest employees.
September 7, 2006, George Ryan is convicted and sentenced to federal prison on over twenty counts of racketeering and fraud.
September 2007- January 8, 2008, Herb Whitlock is granted a new trial by the State's 4th District Appellate Court based on the "state's suppression of evidence favorable to the defense" and that because of those errors, "the verdict would have been different. Four months later, after spending 21 years in prison, Herb Whitlock becomes a free man.
May 8, 2008, Lieutenant Michale Callahan's First Amendment case is reversed by the United States 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that in light of Garcetti, "Mr. Callahan spoke not as a citizen but as a public employee, and that speech is not entitled to protection by the First Amendment."
Randy Steidl and Herb Whitlock file multi-million dollar law suits against the state police and others, including the lone agent assigned to the "renewed" investigation. Steidl and Whitlock remain suspects and the focus of the renewed investigation. The state continues to attack Callahan and his family, strategizing with the public relations man of the millionaire suspect to discredit Callahan and plan strategies to "bait him into a law suit, conduct surreptitious recordings and spread false and malicious rumors that he and his wife are swingers, frequent sex clubs and that Callahan had an affair with the sister of Dyke Rhoads. The State of Illinois taxpayers have paid the private attorney's over two million dollars to defend those who long ago forgot about the oath they took to defend those taxpayers.
On December 9, 2008, Rod Blagojevich became the second governor in a row to be criminally charged in Illinois. He was impeached and removed from office on January 30, 2009 and indicted on April 2, 2009 on 16 counts of corruption. Robert Grant, special agent in charge of the Chicago FBI office declared of Illinois, "If it isn't the most corrupt state in the United States, it's certainly one hell of a competitor."
Michale Callahan's Writ of Certiorari is currently before the United States Supreme Court fighting for our freedom of speech. Who will police the police if they refuse to police themselves and who holds governments accountable now for their criminal acts?
To every citizen's worst nightmare, there is still no closure for Dyke and Karen Rhoads or their families.