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By Megan Dooley
A former North Chicago police officer, his son, and a third man have been charged with first degree murder for the July 11 shooting death of a Chicago woman in River Forest.
Devin A. Bickham Sr., 39, and his son Devin Ardvell Bickham Jr., both of the 12800 block of Division in Blue Island, and Cardell Taylor, 35, of the 9400 block of South Lowe in Chicago were charged this morning.
The victim, 29-year-old Chervon Alexander, of the 1300 block of North Mayfield in Chicago, was shot multiple times at approximately 10:22 p.m. on Monday, while sitting in a car in a parking lot near Priory Park, on the 7200 block of Division.
She was pronounced dead at just after 11 p.m., after being taken to Loyola Medical Center.
Bickham, Sr. was also in the car at the time of the shooting. He made the 911 call, after the shooter and another suspect fled the scene in a gray Chevrolet Impala.
Taylor is allegedly the shooter.
According to River Forest Deputy Chief Craig Rutz, it is believed that Bickham Sr. was involved in an extramarital affair with Alexander, and arranged to have her murdered when she began to demand too much of his attention.
"[According to sources] the problem was that she was demanding more out of the relationship," said Rutz.
The Cook County Medical Examiner's office, which has conducted an autopsy, would neither confirm nor deny rumors which have swirled around the investigation that Alexander was pregnant. The medical examiner cited the continuing investigation as the reason for its silence on that issue.
Bickham, Sr., is married though his spouse is not thought to be involved in any way in the alleged murder.
The police department in North Chicago, a far north suburb, confirmed that Devin Bickham was a former officer, but could not specify when he left the department. A Chicago Tribune newspaper article dated September 2000 said Bickham was sworn into the department as an officer early that month. Details about Bickham's departure from the police force remain unclear.
However, a source close to the department said that Bickham left the force following allegations of sexual misconduct, possibly involving an underage victim. The source said Bickham was never officially charged for that offense. The source also said that Bickham reportedly had a large number of children while in his 20s.
When police arrived at the murder scene on Monday night, Bickham allegedly provided false information about the shooter, including that he fled on foot. Other witnesses who had been in the park at the time of the shooting provided identifying information about the gunman and vehicle, and that information was immediately broadcast over police radios.
Four minutes later, Bickham Jr. and Taylor were pulled over in a gray Chevrolet Impala at Madison and Harlem by Forest Park and Oak Park police and placed under arrest. A gun was recovered from the vehicle.
According to Rutz, the victim and the three men charged with her murder had visited the park where she was murdered on prior occasions to drink, and knew that it would likely be empty.
At the time of the murder, Bickham Sr. was reportedly sitting in the driver's seat and Alexander was sitting in the passenger seat. Within a few minutes of entering the parking lot and parking the vehicle, Taylor and Bickham Jr. allegedly pulled up in another vehicle and parked nearby. The vehicle was possibly hidden by some bushes.
"The shooter came right through the bushes and just walked up and opened fire," Rutz said, adding that it's his understanding that there was no conversation between the victim and Taylor prior to the shooting.
Rutz could not confirm whether money was exchanged for the murder, but he said there's still work to do in uncovering details about the crime. "There's more to the story than we have yet," Rutz said.