Just after 6:00 A.M. on July 6, 2014, a body was found on railroad tracks by an eastbound Union Pacific freight train passing through the Geneva Station in Geneva, Kane County, Illinois. The engineer did not see anyone else in the area. When the engineer saw the what could have been a body lying on the tracks he began blowing his horn and slowed to a stop.
He reported that he saw a woman lying awkwardly on the track with her eyes open, in a blank star and was not moving. The train came to an emergency stop and moved closer to the woman on the tracks. They reported that her shirt was halfway up her back and she was not moving or breathing. They reported that her neck was “laid” across the tracks “in a perfect manner” so that an ‘oncoming train would strike her body’. He noticed a purple color around her mouth, brush in her hair, a cell phone nearby and ‘spotting’ on her leg, later determined to be lividity.
The phone found by the body was placed against a couple of railroad spikes on the opposite side of the rail from the body, and later determined to be wiped of any fingerprints. She was wearing a gray top, black running shorts and no spandex liner with black and pink running shoes. The shorts were loose and she wore no underpants underneath. The bra was pulled up exposing her.
Determined soon after to be that of Kathleen M King, it was known for her to run or jog in the park nearby. Her ten year old son later testified the she normally wore an armband where she tucked in her iPhone when running, wore either glasses or contact lenses and earbuds. There was no armband, no glasses or contact lenses, and no earbuds. They were left at home, found in a later search.
The night before Kathleen, her husband and her three children went to her father’s house in Elk Grove to celebrate the holiday. It was reported that her husband drank three or four beers and Kathleen had a bottle and a half of wine. The children spent the night at their grandfathers house and the couple left to head home. The family reported that Kathleen did not have any injuries or bruises that night.
The next morning, the Geneva Police contacted Kathleen’s sister to report that Kathleen was found deceased. The sister contacted their father on the phone and told him not to let Kathleen’s husband take the kids with him. The father was in shock as the husband came to the door to pick up the kids, something he had never done before. Now he was at the door and wanted the children. Kathleen was dead.
Kathleen’s father Kurt opened the door for the husband and asked him where Kathleen was. According to court records he said they “were fighting and she went running at 6:30 to clear her head”. The father notified “Shad” that Kathleen was dead. Shad’s response was “I didn’t do anything. I didn’t do anything”. Shad never asked her father what happened or where she was.
The police were called and Shad told them during an interview that Kurt wouldn’t give him his own children because Kathleen was deceased. He said they had gotten in an argument over Kathleen seeing a man who she met in the military, and Shad told her to choose between them. Shad said she went running by the river at 6:30 A.M. and Shad went to Kurt’s house to pick up the children but no one was home so he drove over to Kathleen’s grandmother’s house in Chicago arriving there between 9:00 A.M. and 9:30 A.M. and no one was there either. He then went back to Kurt’s house. Shad asked Kurt if Kathleen was ok.
Police officers drove Shad to the police department. They said Shad was so upset and anxious that it was not safe for him to drive himself. Within twenty minutes of the ride Shad asked how Kathleen died but the officers did not know.
The interview with Shad began about 1:00 P.M. Shad told them that Kathleen was away in basic training until June 14, 2014 and he took a leave of absence from work to take care of the children while she was away. He then learned she was in a relationship with another man. Shad said he told her he wanted a divorce but she refused to consider it. He said he told Kathleen that she can leave state with the children to be with her boyfriend as long as he could have the children over the summer.
Shad told Detectives that he and his wife went to a bar in Geneva after her dad’s Fourth of July party on the same night. The bartender stated in the trial that she served Shad five bottles of beer and Kathleen four glasses of wine. They also had a shot each. Shad said he left the bar and they both got home together about 2:00 A.M. He said he was brushing his teeth while she was texting someone on her phone. He saw her text to her other boyfriend. He text the boyfriend back and told him to leave Kathleen alone and that he was going to bed with Kathleen. There were eleven text messages on record about Shad and Kathleen having sex that were sent to her boyfriend between 4:18 A.M. and 4:57 A.M. After Shad took her phone, she grabbed another device and continued communicating with her boyfriend.
Shad said they stayed up until 5:00 A.M. talking and denied they had argued about her boyfriend saying he accepted that she was having an affair. He said he went to sleep for an hour and that Kathleen was also in bed until 6:30 A.M. when she left to go running. She usually ran by the river and said she was wearing black and pink running shoes but he couldn’t remember what she was wearing. He was tearful during the interview and said she must have been hit by a car. Detective told Shad that her death was not an accident. He said he did not and could not have harmed her.
Shad said that when she went running he went out to get donuts as his norm on Sundays. At 9:30 A.M. he called and text her to get her father’s phone number so he could pick up the boys. He said he then left, waved to the neighbors and went to Kurt’s house. One of the Detectives noticed he had a fat lip but he said it wasn’t “fat”.
The coroner’s office ruled that Kathleen died of asphyxiation.
Shad was charged on two counts of First Degree Murder on July 11, 2014.
A former police officer and FBI profiler with no medical training testified, over objection, that the lividity on her body at the train tracks were inconsistent with her dying there at the tracks and gave his opinion that the cause of death was manual strangulation. He said the death scene at the tracks he believed was staged and that she was killed in her residence by someone close to her, not a stranger.
The defense brought in their own forensic pathologist that testified Kathleen died of a cardiac event brought on by stress, alcohol intoxication, lack of sleep and caffeine consumption. Her tox report showed her alcohol content was .15. His opinion was that when she was running, she became unwell, sat down on the rail and expired and said the lividity fit that scenario. He said that the other pathologists autopsy report was incomplete because “asphyxiation” as a cause of death was “nonspecific”.
The initial pathologist testified that her autopsy findings led her to that conclusion due to the pressure applied to the neck, and that the diagnosis of a cardiac event ignored the evidence of strangulation.
The jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to thirty years.
The defense brought forth an appeal immediately following the guilty verdict.
· the court erred in denying his motion for substitution of judge
· the court erred in admitting the police officer’s testimony
· the court erred in permitting Kathleen’s family to dwell on their suffering at her loss
· the prosecution improperly defined reasonable doubt in its closing argument
· defendant was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt
· the cumulative effect of the trial errors requires reversal
On August 21, 2018 Shadwick King won his appeal at the appellate court level, stating that “the judgement of the circuit court of Kane County is reversed, and the cause is remanded for a new trial”.
While the police officer, also an FBI profiler was a crime scene tech, “there is absolutely no question that Safarik never should have been allowed to testify as an expert in this case,”
CASE NUMBER 14CF1229
The new jury trial is now set for September 21, 2020 at the Kane County Courthouse at 8:30 A.M.
GENEVA - Kathleen M. King, Age 32, nee Kuester. Loving mother of Brandon Michael, Nathan Thomas and Justin James. Beloved daughter of Kurt Kuester and Nancy Boyle. Cherished sister of Kristine (Fiance Tim Casey) Kuester and Michael Kuester. Devoted granddaughter of Jean Lane and James and Marjorie Boyle. Dear niece of Susan (Steve) Eder, Mark (Belinda) Kuester; James, Peggy and Katie Boyle and Bridget (Thomas) Roberts. Kathleen graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelor degree in Sociology and then obtained her M.B.A. from North Park University. She was an Army Reservist with The 485th Engineer Company out of Arlington Heights, IL. Visitation Monday July 14 from 3 to 9:00 p.m. at Cumberland Chapels, 8300 W. Lawrence Ave., Norridge. Funeral Tuesday 9:00 a.m. from the funeral home and will proceed to Our Lady Mother of the Church for Mass at 10:00 a.m. Interment Acacia Park Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Kathleen King Children's Trust c/o Parkway Bank, 4800 N. Harlem Ave., Harwood Heights, IL 60706.