Deborah Sheppard Murder: Where is Timothy Krajcir Now?

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The episode titled ‘The Heartland Killer’ of A&E’s ‘Cold Case Files’ delves deep into the murder of Deborah Sheppard, exploring all the intricate details of the case, including the investigation and the capturing of the killer after more than two decades. As the investigators connected the dots to get to the bottom of this case, they learned that there was more truth to uncover about other unsolved cases. The episode also includes exclusive interviews with the victim’s loved ones and officials connected to the case, directly or indirectly.

Deborah Sheppard’s Boyfriend Found Her Dead in Her Apartment

Deborah Renee Sheppard was born on December 10, 1958, in Chicago, Illinois, and growing up, she had the love and support of her parents and sister, Bridgette Sheppard. Her sister described her as a delightful spirit who represented light and love. Having a charismatic and determined personality, she was described as a warm and caring company by those close to her. Being an ambitious person. she had so many dreams, including having a family of her own one day, After graduating from high school with flying colors, her hard-working trait helped her to make the tough decision of moving away from her family’s residence in Olympia Fields, Illinois, and relocating to Carbondale to study marketing at Southern Illinois University.

Image Credit: Red/Find a Grave

Apart from studying, Deborah also made progress in matters of the heart as she had been dating a guy named Randy. At the time of her unfortunate demise, she was 23 years old and just a few weeks away from graduating with her degree. April 8, 1982, was just another day in the happening life of Deborah until it ended up being her last. That day, when her roommate, Anthony, left the apartment, an intruder broke into the house and ambushed her. When her boyfriend, Randy, visited her apartment on the same night, he found Deborah lying dead. In a state of panic, he rushed to a friend’s place and called 911.

As the police arrived at the crime scene, they did not find any visible injuries on the victim’s body or any sort of abnormalities. However, a few days after the murder, her body was transferred for another round of autopsy on April 13, 1982. This time, strangulation, following the sexual assault inflicted upon her, turned out to be the primary cause of Deborah Sheppard’s untimely and tragic death. Upon inspecting the body, the police found the killer’s DNA in the form of his semen, which they kept among other pieces of evidence.

A Serial Killer Attacked Deborah Sheppard

The investigation began, and a list of persons of interest and suspects emerged as the police gathered evidence from the crime scene and interviewed witnesses and relatives. One of the earlier suspects in the case was Deborah’s roommate, Anthony, who reportedly got rejected by her when he tried to kiss her. But he was ruled out as a suspect as there was no concrete evidence against him. Despite the best efforts of the detectives, the investigation mostly led them to dead ends, resulting in the case going cold after some time.

Weeks turned into months, months turned into years, and years turned into decades, but there was hardly any development in the murder case of Deborah Sheppard, mostly due to a lack of advanced technology. For the next 25 years, the mystery surrounding the case kept building on until DNA evidence, which was found on the victim’s body, and advancements in forensic technology cracked the case wide open. When the tests were run through the Illinois DNA Database, it led the authorities to Timothy Krajcir, who was already locked up in the Big Muddy Correctional Center in Ina, Illinois, for an earlier sexual assault charge.

Upon questioning the suspect in 2007, the suspect denied any involvement in the case, but later, when they offered a plea deal, the investigators were shocked when the inmate confessed that he was involved in various other killings spread across Missouri, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. Timothy claimed that he watched Deborah through his window and waited for the perfect opportunity to enter her apartment. On August 30, 2007, he was arrested for the 1982 murder of Deborah Sheppard, but he was already incarcerated. Interestingly, both used to study at SIUC at the time of the killing. Later on, he even confessed to more than 20 unsolved sexual assaults, home burglaries, and attempted murder cases.

Timothy Krajcir is Serving Multiple Life Sentences at an Illinois Prison

On December 10, 2007, Timothy Krajcir pleaded guilty to all the charges against him and appealed for a jury trial. During the trial, he did not exhibit any signs of guilt or remorse for the pain he had caused in the lives of several people. The court sentenced the convict to 40 years in prison. At the time, he was already serving a life imprisonment sentence at the Big Muddy Correctional Center. On January 18, 2008, he pleaded guilty to murdering Virginia Lee Witte in 1978 and received another 40-year sentence.

Then, a few months later, he took a plea guilty in relation to the murder of five more women in Cape Girardeau, seven sexual assaults, and one robbery, receiving an additional 13 consecutive life sentences. He avoided the death sentence as the relatives of the victims agreed to the plea bargain. The killer addressed them in court, stating, “I don’t know if I could have been so generous if I were in the same situation. Thank you for sparing my life.” At the moment, Timothy sits behind bars at the Pontiac Correctional Center in Pontiac, Illinois.

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