2 teens, 1 adult charged in murder of man found near Wilmette - Fox 2 News Headlines

2 teens, 1 adult charged in murder of man found near Wilmette

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Colin Nutter, 20. Colin Nutter, 20.
CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A man and two teens have been charged with the fatal shooting of a 20-year-old north suburban man whose body was found Monday just off the Edens Expressway.

The Lake County State's Attorney's office announced Friday they believe the murder of Colin Nutter, 20, of Highland Park, whose body was found off the expressway in Wilmette, occurred in Highwood.

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Benjamin Schenk, 20; Philip Vatamaniuc, 17; and Michael Coffee, 17, all of Highland Park, have been charged with first-degree murder, according to a statement from prosecutors.

All three suspects were arrested Thursday after being taken into custody 24-48 hours after the murder. All are being held on $5 million bond in the Lake County Jail.

Schenk was the ringleader in the crime, but there is still no apparent motive in the case and officials continue to investigate, Lake County State's Atty. Michael Nerheim said.

Chief George Filenko of the North Suburban Major Crimes Task Force said there was "overwhelming physical evidence" linking the three to Nutter's death, adding there could be more arrests forthcoming.

Prosecutors said the three met Nutter early on June 3 to buy marijuana from him. They sat in Nutter's Dodge Stratus, with Schenk was sitting behind the victim, who was in the driver's seat; and Vatamaniuc sitting behind Coffee, who was in the front seat passenger seat.

Vatamaniuc and Coffee told investigators Schenk shot Nutter in the head, according to prosecutors. Schenk and Vatamaniuc then put his body in the trunk and they drove to Wilmette, dumping the body just off the Edens, a statement from prosecutors said.

"Sometimes there's no answer to what's going through their minds, some things are unexplainable," Filenko said.

They then drove back to 240 Oakridge Ave. in Highwood, where witnesses saw Schenk striking said a Ford Focus belonging to Nutter's family with a baseball bat, at which time he was taken into custody for questioning, prosecutors said.

On June 4, the three suspects drove Nutter's Stratus and the Focus to the 3900 block of West Madison in Chicago, where they ditched the Dodge, an activity captured on a city camera, prosecutors said.

Blood was found on the driver's seat belt of the Stratus, according to prosecutors, and a trunk liner was found in a garbage can in Highwood, along with items from the Nutter's parents' home.

A witness said he overheard Schenk planning the robbery and murder, according to prosecutors.

Nutter was found shot in the head and lying in brush near the Edens Expressway in Wilmette. A dog-walker spotted the body about 8:30 p.m. June 3, lying in brush on the east side of Frontage Road, just south of the intersection of Old Glenview Road and Briar Drive.

An autopsy performed Wednesday confirmed Nutter was shot in the back of the head, Wilmette Police Chief Brian King said.

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering issued a statement Friday, saying, "I extend my sincerest condolences to the family of Colin Nutter in the wake of this tragic loss of their son. Like many others, I experience this news first as a parent and am extraordinarily saddened by this young life lost too soon."

She thanked the police who worked on the case, and said, "I have full confidence that this investigation will be completed in a thorough, professional and expeditious manner."

The suspects are due back in court July 1 in Waukegan.

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