By: Christine Souders
After three years of silence, Lee County Investigators say a convicted murderer has revealed why he killed a 35-year-old Dixon woman. In a trial held on Tuesday, a now 54-year-old Byron Adams was convicted of three counts of first degree murder.
On September 11th, 2009, workers at the Dollar Tree Store found Margaret Atherton's purse and ID in a dumpster, and called police. But when officers tried to return Atherton's belongings, they found her suffocated to death in her home on West 1st Street. A tip from community members led police to Adams, and two days later he was arrested in Chicago.
Wednesday, in a news conference held by lead investigators, new details were brought to the surface, and police revealed why he did it. Lee County Police and State's Attorneys were caught off guard when shortly after the verdict Byron Adams came clean about what happened on that day in September.
Adams told the state's attorneys and judge he killed Margaret Atherton for money. He says he went to Dixon that day to return his ex-girlfriend's car, but when he couldn't find her to get gas money, he told police he robbed Atherton.
But after 3 years of interrogations by the Lee County Major Case Squad, police say they're still not convinced about Adam's reason for killing her.
"His intention when he went there wasn't robbery, it wasn't to get gas money, it was to rape her. And he provided the information in the details that go right into his method of operation, his MO. He put that gun to her face, forced her upstairs to the bedroom, where he intended to rape her. She fought and she struggled for her life," said Chief Danny Langloss from the Dixon Police Department.
During the news conference, Chief Langloss says Adam's violent past demonstrates his true motive, "Byron Adams has a history that spans over 20 years of violence and rape against women. Byron Adams on more than one occasion has gone into a house forcefully and raped innocent defenseless women."
Adams is due back in court in November for his sentencing, where a judge will decide his fate.
"He's been sent a clear message from the justice system and we're confident that he's going to go to prison for the rest of his life," said Langloss.
None of Atherton's family was at the news conference, but police say they notified family members about Adam's confession.