By Bruce Fischer
Deborah Sepulveda and her children, ages two and three, together with Rose Marie Rodriguez and her three-year-old son were found murdered in a home in Chicago Illinois, in 1988. The victims had been suffocated and set on fire.
Police brought Ronald Kitchen in for questioning based on a false tip from a jailhouse informant, Willie Williams. Williams was looking to make a deal in hopes of a shorter prison sentence. He later admitted that he lied about the tip implicating Kitchen, but it was too late to correct the damage that he caused.
Kitchen was interrogated for sixteen hours. He was deprived of food and sleep while detectives beat him with their fists, a phone book, and a telephone receiver. He was also repeatedly struck in the genitals with a nightstick. These detectives were working under Commander Jon Burge. Burge has a history of torturing suspects in order to extract confessions. It is reported that Burge obtained confessions by using torture methods such as suffocation, beating with various instruments, and administering electric shock to genitals. Burge was convicted in June 2010 of federal perjury and obstruction of justice for lying about the torture.
Kitchen had absolutely nothing to do with the murders. His conviction was based primarily on his confession. During his confession, Kitchen implicated another man, Marvin Reeves. Like Kitchen, Reeves was completely innocent. Confessions obtained using torture will not provide accurate information. If a person’s genitals are repeatedly struck with a nightstick, they will say just about anything to get the pain to stop.
Kitchen and Reeves were fully exonerated and freed July 7, 2009. They both lost twenty-one years of their lives due to a corrupt police commander and the actions of his department.
During Kitchen’s incarceration, his brother and other relatives died and his mother came down with dementia. She will never even know that her son was exonerated and freed. Kitchen also missed out on his son’s childhood.