About Diane Chavez

Diane Chavez was the only person the Rockford Police initially arrested in connection with the Greg Clark murder investigation on 2/6/08. The Rockford Police did not have to arrest her that evening. They could have fully questioned her, released her, and then later arrested her if her story did not check out.

Instead they arrested her without asking about her whereabouts on February 5, 2008, at the time she was allegedly seen in a van by Greg Clark’s house. They put a massive $500,000 bond on her to prevent her release despite her lack of any criminal history and the minor and false allegation they used to arrest her.  They alleged that she obstructed the investigation by lying to them when she said that Richard Wanke was her downstairs apartment tenant and did not physically live with her in her own apartment.

Diane Chavez never lied to the police on 2/6/08. Police knew it on 2/6/08 or shortly after and persisted in using false evidence against her.

Diane Chavez didn’t lie on 2/6/08. She owned the two-story, 2-unit duplex located at 1111-1113 Grant Ave. She lived in the upstairs 1113 Grant St. apt, and Richard Wanke lived separately in the lower 1111 Grant St. apt. She has and could have produced to the police proof they had separate gas and electric billed service to their respective apartments. Some of these bills are below, and Diane still has the originals. She recovered Richard’s bills from a folder in his apartment after the police searched the duplex. The folder contents were left spread out indicating the police looked at them during the search but did not collect them as evidence.

Richard’s 1111 Grant Ave Electric Service

Two electric bills showing Richard Wanke’s electrical service at 1111 Grant Ave (lower apt). The first bill shows his service before his arrest on 2/6/08. The second shows the drop off in his electrical usage to zero usage in the months after his arrest. He was in jail and no one was living in his apt.

Diane’s 1113 Grant Ave Electric Service

These two bills show Diane’s electric service in her 1113 Grant Ave (upper) apartment. The November 2007 bill shows her record of usage over prior year. The 2nd bill shows her electric usage much higher during the month she got out of jail and had to empty the apartment before boarding up the duplex.

Richard’s 1111 Grant Ave Gas Service

Richard’s bills for gas service for his 1111 Grant Ave apartment. One bill shows his gas service usage before 2/6/08. The second shows 0 service usage March – May 2008, on his account after his arrest and while he was still in jail. No one was living in his apartment.

Diane’s 1113 Grant Ave Gas Service

This shows Diane’s gas service at her apt, 1113 Grant Ave, just prior to her arrest on 2/6/08. Bar chart at left shows her prior usage.

 

If the police needed further proof, a call to the SA’s office could have easily cleared up the matter.  The Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s office already knew before 2/6/08, that Richard Wanke rented an apartment from Diane Chavez. Diane identified herself as Richard’s landlord when she testified at his 2007 burglary trial in 06 CF 405. She stated that she owned a 2 unit duplex in which she lived upstairs and that Richard Wanke was her tenant and lived downstairs in it’s lower apartment.

After 1/06, while Richard was in Pretrial Daily Reporting, the Winnebago County Pretrial Office also had sent officers over to 1111 Grant Ave as part of his burglary case to physically verify his address for court. Attorney, Greg Clark, also had to request a court order allowing Richard to mow the lawns of the six vacant lots Diane owned on the west side of Rockford. Richard’s rental agreement with Diane Chavez provided that he would mow those lots in lieu of paying rent for 1111 Grant Ave, and that he would also pay the gas and electric service for his apartment. The Court order for mowing is below. During the 8 months that Richard was on Pretrial Daily Reporting, he filled out a weekly mowing schedule, and County Pretrial staff then drove out to the lots weekly to verify that he was mowing them at the times he indicated.

06 CF 405 Court order permission for mowing

Diane worked as a Human Services Caseworker for the State and was at work at the time of Greg Clark’s murder. The State verified this. The State could also have verified that she did not drive a van on 2/5/08, and that she withdrew money and went to pay a city parking ticket that day at the time she was supposedly identified as being seen on the other side of the city by Greg Clark’s house during her work lunch hour. You can see her proof of that here:

2/5/08, Ticket email and payment during lunch-hour.

It includes an email she sent her alderman in December 2007, complaining about receiving the parking ticket at the time.  In it, she also refers to her tenant.

The alleged witness identification against her is false

The Rockford Police really arrested Diane Chavez on 2/6/08, because she refused to allow them to search her whole duplex without obtaining a search warrant. When they spoke to her, the police did not have any evidence to show she was involved in Clark’s murder, so they couldn’t get a search warrant. Instead, in a few hours, they later drummed up the convenient witness to allege she was at Clark’s house as basis to arrest her and get free access to her whole duplex holding her out of the way of the rest of their investigation.

The witness described seeing a white, petite, woman in her 30’s, in a blue van parked adjacent to Clark’s house on 2/5/08. She picked a photo of Diane Chavez out of a police photo lineup. Even on 2/6/08, the Rockford Police knew Diane Chavez to be a women of unknown racial background, but not white. They also knew she was nearly 50 years old but to obtain an ID, the police used Diane’s IL State Driver’s License in which she looked younger and she looked to be a caucasian woman who could be in her 30’s due to the photo lighting the State of Illinois driver’s license facility used at that time. Here is the photo the police used. It is slightly blurred for privacy reasons:

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The above photo was taken @ 2000 when Diane also weighed 20 – 30 pounds lighter than she did on 2/5/08. When the police arrested Diane on 2/6/08, they found that her appearance was much more similar to her photo in the next Driver’s License, which was issued on 7/8/11. In this photo, she is looks a decade older and hispanic. The police took photos of Diane Chavez the evening of 2/6/08, before booking her into the Winnebago County Jail.  For some reason, the police did not show those current photos to their witness:

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Police charged Diane with Obstruction of Justice, alleging that she lied to them when she told them that Richard Wanke did not live with her in her apartment on 2/6/08. Where Richard Wanke lived is immaterial to the Clark murder as the police found no incriminating evidence when they later searched the duplex. The State will try to use the personal court papers found in the duplex pertaining to Richard Wanke’s prior case as evidence against him at trial, but they are just common defendant correspondence and writings.

When Diane Chavez was able to pay $50K to bond out of jail, State prosecutors threatened via her attorney to rearrest her on a second new charge unless she cooperated with them against Richard Wanke. Diane refused to do so and the State had the police rearrest her in April 2008, on the charges of Tampering with Public Documents. They put another $100,000 bond on her too.

The 2nd charge was also a pretext the police did not even bother to discuss with her. The State relied upon an email to maintain that she criminally and illegally removed documents from her State job. She was later acquitted after showing that the State had no such work rule.

What Happened to Diane

Her arrests and the extreme costs of defending herself destroyed her life. When the Rockford Police searched Diane’s duplex on 2/7/08, they not only trashed it’s contents, they called the city to condemn the building. The City asked Nicor to shut off the gas to the duplex and the police then boarded it up without draining down the piping systems in the winter cold. They also left her cat inside. The building sat vacant for 30 days before Diane was able to pay 50K to bond out of jail. Lightning stuck the duplex and fried the electrical service to the downstairs apt. It could have burned the duplex down.

When Diane got out of jail, she found the duplex plumbing frozen and broken; raccoons, birds, and water heavily damaged it’s upper level, and it took her three days to coax her starving cat out of the duct-work. She had no money for repairs and a $13,500 fine levied by the city.

Diane finally cleared herself of all charges filed against her in 2015. It took 7 years of an exhaustive defense over baseless and stupid charges.  Diane lost everything; her job, her duplex and five vacant investment lots, her reputation and was left penniless. In 2008, she was forced to move in with her parents. Shortly after, she had to deal with both diagnosed with dementia and having to arrange and care for them. Her mother died in 2015, and she still cares for her bedridden father and another family member. She is suing the city of Rockford over what happened.

Her background

Diane’s lived in the community for decades and is single. She worked years for Rockford and the State. She was a librarian, paralegal, social worker, and caseworker. She also worked with the mentally ill. In her 20’s – 30’s she was an environmental activist, worked with area peace groups and was active on social change issues. Later, she spent almost a decade operating a fair trade gift store (The Peace Store) on 7th St., on a volunteer basis. She has no convictions or other offenses. After this trial is over, she may get back her two vehicles and property the police seized from her on 2/7/08. She will also have to re-invent her future as best she can.

In legal terminology, Diane Chavez is considered “collateral damage”. Collateral damage in a case occurs when the police and State take actions which damage or attempt to use innocent people in their pursuit of a conviction against someone else. The State and police apply pressure to that person and have little regard for their safety or welfare.

Rockford Police find a suspect and if they are happy with him, they don’t spend much time looking elsewhere. In the Greg Clark murder they got Richard’s name and Deputy Police Chief Greg Lindmark was happy with the name. He went to high school with Richard and they didn’t get along. Lindmark arrested Richard in 1991, and was later sued by him. Even though the lawsuit was dropped, some animosity remained. Richard was an atypical suspect for the Clark murder. He was non-violent and not a physical man with any weapons or criminal associations. He’d been closely monitored 2006 – 2007, was indigent, and did not own a vehicle. Greg Lindmark needed to make him fit the crime. Diane Chavez was a past girlfriend, long-time friend of his and now his landlord. Even if it was false, linking her to Richard helped make Richard a viable suspect to police for Clark’s murder.

Diane's appearance in her 30's

Diane’s appearance in her 30’s

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