Brothers Kill Parents of a Sixth Grader in their Own House
Acting State’s Attorney for the Cook County, Patrick T. Driscoll, Jr., announced the charges made against two brothers who has murdered the mother and father of a child in 6th grade. The victims were found dead in their own house, with the child alive after being beaten up by one of the brothers. The crime was done initially set for robbery but had gone terribly wrong once the robbers had found people inside the house, and were ready to kill the family for some cash and valuable items.
Reginald Mahaffey and Jerry Mahaffey, brothers, have been convicted for several charges, following the burglary and murder in the home of Dean and Jo Ellen Pueschel. The Honorable Thomas A. Hett convicted both the defendants for the murder of Dean and Jo Ellen, the attempted murder of the child of the murder victims, aggravated battery to a child, armed robbery, home invasion, rape, residential burglary, and theft. The defendants also face death sentences, by which the jury found no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude the imposition of death sentences.
On the unfortunate day of August 29, 1983, the defendants had set out to burglarize a clothing store on the northside of Chicago. At approximately 2:30 am, the defendants drove a borrowed van to Howard Street near Western Avenue as they set to target the clothing store; however, plans changed when the defendants were faced with heavy traffic. As such, they have decided to pursue a different clothing store but was again faced with another challenge as the battery of their van died. As they parked the van in a parking lot, they noticed an open window in one of the apartments and decided to target it instead.
Arriving at the house of the victims, the defendants got in through the bathroom window and entered the kitchen where they picked up a 5-inch long butcher knife. After which, they got into the room of Richard “Ricky” Pueschel, the child of Dean and Jo Ellen, where they attempted to murder him through suffocation, clubbing with a bat, and stabbing the young child multiple times with a knife. They then proceeded to the other room where Dean and Jo Ellen were sleeping at. The defendants both simultaneously hit the husband first until the wife awoke. The defendants then took a turn in performing acts of sexual harassment and rape with the woman. It was reported that Reginald Mahaffey had sexual intercourse with the woman over the arm of a couch in the living room. In contrast, Jerry Mahaffey decided to go for the mouth after his brother was finished with the victim. Jo Ellen was told that she needed to cooperate because she had no choice.
The defendants managed to escape using the car of the family, taking with them several items, including an arcade game, jewelry, TV machine, tape player, and several firearms and ammunition, specifically a .357 magnum, a rifle, a shotgun, a box of 30/30 shells, 12 gauge shells, and a box of .357 special magazines. Before the defendants left the scene, they laid the mother and child together, and had attempted to murder both of them, except the young child did not pass away.
After their escape, the defendants went straight to 3534 West 13th Place where they previously reside and subsequently attempted to get rid of the car by driving it to 2245 West Lake Street and leaving it in the area, in hopes that someone else would steal it and take away their fingerprints in the car. The defendants managed to ride a bus to go back home. The proceeds of the burglary were divided amongst the two individuals and were also shared with another brother that was not involved in the aforementioned crimes.
In the early morning hours of the day of the crime, at approximately 8:00 am, Mr. Joseph Heinrich, father of Jo Ellen, drove to his daughter’s house that was approximately 10 minutes away in order to check on the family who was supposed to drop off their grandson at their place to watch after him for the day. It was also reported that Dean’s place of employment had also called the grandparents’ house, as there was no one answering the telephone at their place of residence, and that Dean had not yet arrived for work. Upon arriving at the place of a home of the Pueschel, the grandfather immediately saw his grandchild walking outside, covered with blood. The child then informed his grandfather that he was attempting to look for the car keys to drive to their place, and had also told him that his parents were dead.
The Chicago Police Department, along with Detective Anthony Graffeo, arrived at the scene of the crime at 2519 West Jerome at approximately 9:30 am. In the apartment, there was the body of Jo Ellen lying in a pool of blood, and the body of Dean with eight visible puncture wounds and a contusion on his eye. The following day, on August 30, 1983, a patrol sergeant named Sgt. Pierczynski was approached by an elderly black man at approximate 1:15 pm to inform him of a vehicle at 2245 West Lake Street, which seemed to be “out of place”. Upon checking the car in concern, he saw a 1982 red Camaro with a plate number which matched the one that was given on an all-call broadcast earlier that day.
Three days later, on September 2 1983, the defendants were arrested by Sergeant Byrne, and Detective Grunhard who was said to have responded to a radio call and proceeded to 95th and the Dan Ryan at about 2:00 am where they met Sergeant Jackson arresting the other brother of the defendants. After which, they proceeded to 3534 West 13th Place where the defendants were apprehended. The items taken from the Pueschel family were all recovered.
Reginald Mahaffey and Jerry Mahaffey have been convicted for the murders and felony crimes that they committed on August 29, 1983. Additionally, they face death sentences under the grounds of committing two murders, alongside committing several other felonies such as attempted murder, aggravated battery of a child, home invasion, rape, residential burglary, and theft.
Interim Cook County State’s Attorney Patrick T. Driscoll, Jr. commended the Assistant State’s Attorneys Judy L. DeAngelis, Reneer Goldfarb, and Paul Tsukuno for their exemplary work on the case. State’s Attorney Patrick T. Driscoll, Jr. also thanked the Chicago Police Department for their collaborative work on the case.
Updated: September 28, 2020