A former police officer stands accused of plotting with his son and a friend to kill a girlfriend who had been pressuring him to "advance" their relationship, police said today.
The plot unfolded Monday night near Dominican University in River Forest, where Chervon Alexander, 29, was shot to death, according to police. Investigators said Alexander had been dating Devin A. Bickham Sr., 39, who was once a police officer in North Chicago.
“It seems he selected this method to get out of the relationship,” said River Forest Police Sgt. Michael Thornley. “He was under some pressure about the relationship and was under pressure to leave his wife, and this was his reaction to it.”
Bickham is charged with first-degree murder along with his son, Devin Ardvell Bickham Jr., 20, and the friend, Cardell Taylor, 35. The older Bickham is an owner of the Chi-City Blitz, a traveling flag-football team.
Late Monday night, Bickham drove Alexander to a parking lot that was dark due to a power outage, police said. They were followed by the younger Bickham and Taylor, who parked nearby. Taylor got out of the car, walked up to the older Bickham's car and fired repeatedly at Alexander before fleeing the scene, police said.
Bickham Sr. then called police and pretended to be a witness to the shooting. Police believe he was trying to distance himself from the shooting.
“He was still at the scene when officers arrived,” Thornley said. “We believe he was trying to throw suspicion away from himself. At the time, he was our primary witness, but as the investigation moved forward, he went from being a witness to a person of interest.”
Bickham Jr. and Taylor fled the scene but were pulled over on Harlem Avenue near Madison Street. When stopped, police said a handgun, which they believe to be the murder weapon, was in plain view in the car.
The three men are due in court Friday.
Told the news of the charges today, Alexander’s close friend and neighbor Tiheta Hinton said Alexander and Bickham Sr. started dating about eight months ago. Hinton often saw Bickham at Alexander’s home or picking her up in his car.
“He just seemed like a normal guy,” said Hinton, whose husband is Alexander's mother's pastor. “They would go out and eat, and he would come over and watch television with the family, and that was pretty much the gist of it.”
Hinton said that Alexander was excited about the relationship and often gushed about Bickham’s personality and work as a truck driver.
“She would say that she really liked him and that he was really nice and seemed really stable,” Hinton said. “She wanted to spend the rest of her life with him.”
A couple of weeks ago, Hinton went over to Alexander’s home to visit with her family and Alexander told her that she and Bickham were planning to get married in August on her father's birthday; her father had died last year.
“If this is true, it’s senseless, it’s senseless,” Hinton said. “She did not deserve this. (Bickham Sr.) could have just walked away.”
The older Bickham, who recently owned a trucking company called Bick Express Inc., filed for bankruptcy twice in the past 18 months, records show.
In papers filed March 22 in Bankruptcy Court, Bickham listed his marital status as “separated.” He stated in an affidavit that the separation had “drastically’ changed his household income, which was partly the reason he defaulted on a previous deal to pay off creditors.
“Furthermore, my employment relies on a vehicle lease through my employer, and I was required to invest approximately $3,500 in repairs to the vehicle,” Bickham wrote in the affidavit. “I also lost approximately a week of work due to bereavement and a shoulder injury, further temporarily decreasing my income.”