A man convicted in the random kidnapping and killing of a woman in Zion was released from prison on Tuesday after serving 38 years, state records show.
Warren Peters Jr., 68, was convicted in 1984 of first-degree murder, a Class M felony, and aggravated kidnapping, a Class 1 felony.
Rene Valentine and Michele Thompson were sitting in the front seat of a car in the parking lot of D. Laney’s Tavern in Gurnee on February 4, 1984.
Hector R. Sanchez, of Zion, approached the car, opened the driver’s door and held a gun to Valentine’s head, Valentine testified at trial.
At the same time, Peters opened the passenger door, grabbed Thompson and pushed his way into the car.
Thompson saw Sanchez’s gun and became hysterical, screaming for help and trying to escape.
Peters picked the woman up, put both arms around her body and carried her as she struggled and screamed.
Sanchez and Peters pushed and pulled Thompson into their car where she was handcuffed.
Sanchez directed Valentine at gunpoint to an alley behind the tavern where he shot Valentine twice. Valentine managed to escape and survived.
Sanchez and Peters drove to Sanchez’s home and the woman was sexually assaulted and bound.
Peters testified at trial that he did not sexually assault the woman and that he stayed at the house to try and protect Thompson.
At one point, the woman escaped the home but was dragged back into the house by Sanchez.
Peters testified that Sanchez dragged Thompson down into the basement where he ordered him to follow.
Peters said he closed his eyes while Sanchez killed Thompson.
Sanchez and Peters carried the girl’s body upstairs and put it into the car.
They drove to Wisconsin and Peters tossed the body out of the car. Peters testified that Sanchez threatened to kill him if he told anyone about the murder.
An FBI agent who testified said that Peters provided a lengthy statement after his arrest that failed to mention his conduct on the night of the murder resulted from any orders or threats by Sanchez.
A jury convicted Peters on both charges. The jury convicted Sanchez of first-degree murder, rape, attempted murder, aggravated kidnapping and deviate sexual assault.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Sanchez was convicted in 1986 in a separate case for the murder of a woman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Sanchez was initially sentenced to death for the Lake County case. He later had his death sentence commuted and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Peters was sentenced to 80 years in prison on the murder charge and 60 years in prison on the kidnapping charge.
The sentences for Peters were to be served concurrently, meaning he was required to serve a total of 80 years. With day-for-day credit, his sentence totaled 40 years.
State records show Peters was admitted to Illinois River Correctional Center on October 15, 1984.
After serving just under 38 years, Peters was released from prison on Tuesday.