Escapee gets more time

By Greg Rivara

A convicted murderer, whose attempted escape routed him through parts of DeKalb County and ended in Sycamore Sept. 26, received an additional 30 years to his prison sentence Thursday after abductiong a Kendall County farmer during his flight.

During a pre-trial hearing, Jessie Donald Sumner, 52, pleaded guilty to the aggravated kidnapping of James Kuhn in the attempted escape.

The 30-year sentence will be added to Sumner’s 250-300 year prison term he is currently serving at the Stateville Prison in Joliet. Sumner is serving a prison sentence for three murders in 1972-1973 in the Illinois counties of McLean and Tazwell.

Although Sumner’s case was scheduled for trial later this month, the case ended Thursday after a negotiated plea agreement in front of Kendall County Circuit Judge James Wilson. Officials from DeKalb, Will and Kendall Counties agreed to charge Sumner with aggravated kidnapping in Kendall County where the offense occurred.

DeKalb County State’s Attorney Mike Coghlan said the decision to charge Sumner in Kendall County was agreed to due to a number of reasons, including “judicial economy.”

The additional 30 years Sumner received is “a fair sentence considering the circumstances,” Coghlan said.

The sentencing was assessed to Sumner to make a point and “in all likelihood” will increase Sumner’s criminal status and require him to be held in a more secure confinememt, he said.

Sumner’s attempted escape occurred during a trip from the Pontiac Correctional Center to Joliet to have a hearing aid repaired.

While in the store, Sumner overpowered the two guards using a 6-inch loaded homemade derringer. The weapon was loaded with a .38 caliber round and the weapon was used to take a correctional officer’s .38 caliber revolver. Sumner then took the two correctional officers and office manager David Hyland hostage.

He then fled Joliet and drove a corrections department vehicle northwest to Kendall County where Hyland and one officer were handcuffed to a tree. Sumner then proceeded on foot to Kuhn’s farm with the other correctional officer as hostage.

Sumner then abducted Kuhn, and the trio traveled north on Route 47 to DeKalb County, using Kuhn’s truck.

Sumner handcuffed Kuhn to a tree near Hinkley, and continued towards Sycamore with the correctional officer as his remaining hostage.

He was pursued by officers from DeKalb County, Sycamore and DeKalb Police and was captured near a field on Brickville Rd. in rural Sycamore.

Sumner has served 14 years of a 50 to 100 year prison sentence for strangling Illinois State University student Coreen Burchie in 1972. Extended prison terms for the deaths of ISU student Dawn Huwe and waitress Rae Ann Schneider also were sentenced to Sumner.

Sumner murdered Schneider and Huwe while on parole for the beating and stabbing death of Herschel Williams Jr. Sumner slit Williams’ throat with a straight razor after an argument at Sumner’s barber shop. The body was later discovered inside a steel drum in a garbage dump near Bloomington.