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Bail denied for Pingree Grove man charged with murder and kidnapping in Wheeling

A Cook County judge on Wednesday bailed a Pingree Grove man charged with the murder of his ex-girlfriend and kidnapping her young daughter.

Ahmeel Fowler, 26, of Block 1100 on Daytona Way, appeared in court after being arrested by police in Wheeling on Tuesday.

He is charged with the first degree murder in the death of 21-year-old Ja’nya Murphy and the grievous abduction of Murphy’s 17-month-old daughter Jaclyn “Angel” Dobbs. The baby was found dead in a retention basin in Hammond, Indiana; their autopsy results are still pending.

Fowler was arrested last week in Springfield, Missouri, where he waived his right to an extradition hearing before being sent back to Illinois.

Assistant Cook County State attorney Glendon Runk said in court Wednesday that Fowler and Murphy had been in a recurrent relationship over the past year.

Fowler picked Murphy and her child up from their apartment in Wheeling on the evening of November 8, and they drove to Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg to buy shoes for the baby, Runk said.

Back at the apartment, Murphy spoke to her current boyfriend on the phone just before 11 p.m. – the last time anyone spoke to her, Runk said.

When Murphy didn’t call her boyfriend as promised the next morning and all of his calls went to her voicemail, he worried. So did her family, who tried to contact her, say prosecutors.

The family filed a missing person report with police after failing to arrive at Woodman’s on their 10pm shift on November 9. said Runk.

A preliminary autopsy showed that the cause of death was asphyxiation.

A bag from Murphy containing her cell phone and ID was later found in the Indiana Pond, Runk said.

Runk said police investigators were able to track Fowler’s movement on his phone and showed that he was at Wheeling’s home at 4:30 p.m. 40 p.m. He traveled to the Indiana Retention Basin at 3:43 p.m. and then returned to his parents’ home in Pingree Grove at 5:30 a.m., according to geolocation analysis.

The next morning he went to his brother’s home in Missouri, where he was arrested at 4:00 p.m. on November 10th.

A search of his vehicle revealed several bottles of bleach, a blood-stained knife, and blood-stained clothing soaked in bleach, Runk said.

Authorities believe Fowler may have tried to injure himself in the Pingree Grove home. During a phone call with his girlfriend on the way to Missouri, he said he was suicidal and had something to say to her, Runk said.

The video surveillance also shows Fowler and the victims shopping at various stores in the mall, Runk said.

While the prosecutor said Fowler admitted being with the victims, going to the mall, returning to the apartment and going to Pingree Grove and then Missouri, Fowler’s public defender said there was no admission, DNA evidence or eyewitnesses , and the case is largely cumbersome.

Prosecutors also said Wednesday that there was a previous domestic violence incident in which Murphy accused Fowler of choking her on February 14, 2021. The incident was not reported to police and Murphy’s parents were unaware that she was still in contact with him, Runk said.

Fowler was also convicted of improper withholding a crime on a January 17, 2017 case in a Northern Illinois University college dorm in DeKalb. Authorities said he hit his then-girlfriend, nailed her to the bed, kneeled on her stomach and grabbed her neck. He was sentenced to 24 months probation and community service.

Fowler has to appear again in court on December 10th at 9:00 a.m.

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