JOLIET – A Coal City man charged with shooting and killing his bartender girlfriend pleaded not guilty at his first court appearance Monday.
Jeremy Boshears, 32, appeared on video in Will County Circuit Judge Carla Alessio Policandriotes' courtroom, where his attorney, Neil Patel, said he pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.
Patel said he plans to file a motion to preserve evidence in the case. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 13. Boshears' wife and other family members were present at Monday's hearing. They declined to comment on the case.
Boshears was charged in connection with the death of 24-year-old Kaitlyn Kearns, who was reported missing Nov. 14. She last was seen at 1:30 a.m. Nov. 13 at Woody's bar. She was a bartender at the 1008 E. Washington St. tavern.
Will County Sheriff's detectives found Kearns’ body in the back of her 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Cherokee was parked inside a pole barn in Aroma Park Township in Kankakee County. Kearns was killed by a single gunshot to the head.
Police believe the owner of the Kankakee County property was not involved in the killing or concealing of Kearns' body, and was unaware the body had been left there.
Lt. Dan Jungles of the Will County Sheriff's Office said Monday that someone he refused to identify drove Boshears from Aroma Park Township after Kearns' death. He said he highly doubts that person will face charges.
After Kearns’ body was found, sheriff’s deputies broke down the door of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club’s clubhouse on East Washington Street and searched it Thursday morning. The Outlaws’ clubhouse is down the street from Woody’s bar.
Jungles declined to say why the clubhouse was searched.
“There’s a lot of details in this case I can’t give out because we’re still working it,” Jungles said.
He said the case still is being investigated, and that sheriff's deputies "never rule anything out until we can't."
During the search of the Outlaws' clubhouse, a white Dodge Charger was towed from an alley alongside the building. The Charger was registered to Boshears, according to state records.
Patel declined to comment when asked whether Boshears was a member of the Outlaws. He said Boshears is married, has a son and works a job where he installs commercial doors.
Woody’s manager Shari Depratt said in a message to The Herald-News that she had no comment except to say of Boshears, “I love that kid. I considered him my son.”
Lou Panos of Hinsdale established a GoFundMe fundraiser for Kearns. As of Monday, it had raised $16,375. The fund was established to help Kearns' family cope with the tragedy.
Boshears initially was charged Friday with concealment of a homicidal death in Kankakee County.
Boshears arrived at the Will County jail shortly after 8:30 p.m. Saturday, according to jail records. Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe agreed to dismiss the concealing a homicide charge so all charges can be prosecuted in Will County.
Boshears' bond has been set at $10 million.