Search for suspect in Washington Park mayor's murder; new mayor hires bodyguard -

Search for suspect in Washington Park mayor's murder; new mayor hires bodyguard

Just over a month after Mayor John Thornton's murder, there is a new police chief in Washington Park, Illinois.

Tonight, the Washington Park Board of Trustees confirmed the hiring of a new police chief, David Clark.  Clark is a St. Clair County Sheriff's Department investigator.  He says he's worked in law enforcement for 32 years, 22 of those years in St. Clair County.  Clark grew up in East St. Louis. 

Clark says he plans to meet with Illinois State Police, the agency leading the investigation in Mayor Thornton's murder, soon.

ISP and the U.S. Marshals are still looking for 34-year-old Aaron Jackson, the main suspect in Mayor Thornton's murder.  Jackson was initially taken into custody as a person of interest, but released after 48 hours.  Police say they didn't have enough evidence at the time to hold Jackson.  

Investigators tell me they believe Jackson is still in the area and may be hiding out.  ISP says it will pursue charges against anyone caught helping Jackson avoid arrest.

Police announced the name of the suspect and provided a photo last week:

Crimestoppers is offering a reward for information:

Mayor Thornton's family is also offering a reward.

Investigators say Jackson shot and killed Mayor Thornton as the mayor drove near the 48th street and Caseyville around 5:45 a.m. on April 1st.  Mayor Thornton was shot in the chest - at close range.  Mayor Thornton finished working an overnight shift at the Metro East Sanitary district and friends say the mayor often drove through town in between work shifts to make sure police were patrolling the area. 

ISP is not commenting on a motive in the case.  Lt. Jim Morrissey says investigators do not believe the mayor did anything wrong or was involved in activity that could have put his life in danger.

Tonight, the new interim mayor of Washington Park says she has hired a bodyguard for protection.  Mayor Cynthia Stovall-Hollingsworth says she is paying for the expense with her own money.  Initially, there was an item on the Board of Trustees agenda requesting a bodyguard for the mayor.  Mayor Stovall-Hollingsworth, however, withdrew the item during the meeting.  She said that after some research, she learned the village could not pay for a bodyguard position.  

 Diana Zoga is a general assignment reporter at News4.  You can reach her by email or follow Diana on Twitter:

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