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Ross denies murder charge over remains found in McHenry house

Published: Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 11:55 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 11:52 p.m. CDT
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(Provided photo)
William J. Ross, 62, was charged in November with concealing a homicide after a caretaker discovered skeletal remains in a sealed room of his home in unincorporated McHenry.

WOODSTOCK – A McHenry man denied allegations that he murdered a woman whose skeletal remains were found in his home almost two years after she died.

William J. Ross, 63, was living in unincorporated McHenry down the street from where the remains of 49-year-old Jacqueline Schaefer were found by a maintenance worker.

He first was charged with concealing a homicide and extradited from Las Vegas, and later indicted on first-degree murder charges. Authorities allege that Ross shot Schaefer and hid her body in a plastic bag and sealed the bedroom.

Ross has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Ross was free on bond on the concealment charge, but has been in custody of the McHenry County Jail since his re-arrest on the murder charge in July. He’s since been unable to post the $5 million bond required for his release.

Schaefer’s decomposed body was identified through DNA testing. It is alleged that she was shot on Sept. 11, 2011. Skeletal remains were discovered in the vacant home in November.

Prosecutors haven’t commented on the evidence that allegedly ties Ross to the crime, but DNA samples were ordered at an earlier court appearance.

He was arraigned Monday before McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather. The judge told Ross that if convicted and should prosecutors be able to prove the crime was committed with a firearm, he could be sentenced an additional 25 years to life, on top of the 20 to 60 years he faces on the murder charge.

Concealing a homicide is a Class 3 felony punishable by two to five years in prison.

His next court date is Sept. 15.

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