On October 20, 1915, 16-year-old Joseph Marek, aided by 16-year-old mentally retarded Charles McWitham, viciously and brutally murdered 78-year-old Joseph Osborne in an invasion of his home. Joseph Marek was convicted in 1916 and sentenced to 14 years in the Illinois State Penitentiary. Apparently as soon as he was out, he committed a crime in Indiana, since in the 1930 Census, he shows as an inmate at the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City.
X = Murder Site: 7816 Chauncey Ave (now Avalon)
Crime and Residence Locations
Click on image for full size view.
Josef (c 1826) and Marie (Wolf, c 1826) Marek (see more here) followed one daughter and two sons and brought the rest of their family from Central Bohemia to Chicago in 1880. By 1883-1885, the children had begun to settle in the town of Brookline, later called Grand Crossing. At the time, it was a suburb, south of Chicago. But the city rapidly expanded, so that Grand Crossing became a neighborhood of Chicago in 1889.
By 1900, nearly all of the Marek siblings and their families lived within the area bounded by 79th Street on the south, Cottage Grove on the West, 76th Street on the north, and the Illinois Central railorad tracks just east of Greenwood Avenue on the east.
In 1900, Emil Marek and his young wife Jennie Cerny and their infant son Joseph, born 26 Jul 1899 at 7744 Greenwood, lived at 7624 Greenwood, just across the street from Emil's brother John Marek at 7629, where their widowed sister Anna (Marek) Landa also lived. Emil's family were still at 7624 Greenwood in 1910, but by 1906, John had moved to 7822 Drexel, just a few doors away from sister Katerina (Marek) Koutecky and brother Josef Marek. So Emil's family had become slightly isolated from the cluster of siblings at 78th and Drexel/Maryland. This isolation apparently increased by 1915, when the Chicago Tribune reported that Emil lived at 7436 De Soto (now Kimbark).
Emil and Jennie had at least three other children: Emma (c 1901), Emil Jr. (c 1904), and Ella L. (c 1907). After the murder, they moved to Hammond, Indiana.
Joseph was sent to the Illinois State Penitentiary for his crime. A penitentiary was originally conceived of as a place where people could be penitent and repent for what they had done. And in Joseph's case, this seems to be what happened. In the 1920 census, he was an inmate in the Illinois State Penitentiary at Joliet. In 1930, he was a machine operator in the shirt shop of the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City. This was apparently a transfer and not a new conviction, since he was eventually released from prison and married and had two children before he died in Hammond, Indiana, 10 Feb 1943.
Chicago Tribune newspaper articles - Click here for the 6 following pages in a PDF file.
Chicago Daily News photographs - These are much better quality than the Tribune images.
Modern Google Maps view of the location of the murder - None of the houses there now were there at the time of the murder.
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