Lee County sheriff: Murder suspects likely still in the area; task force investigating

Latisha D. Evans and Jorden E. Johnson
Latisha D. Evans and Jorden E. Johnson

DIXON – A Sauk Valley couple who investigators said returned home after killing a man and beating a woman in a South Carolina hotel nearly 2 weeks ago are believed to still be hiding in this area, Sheriff John Simonton said on Friday.

Jorden E. Johnson, 28, of Sterling, and Latisha Desiree Evans, 20, of Rock Falls, are considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached.

A task force formed with members of the Lee and Whiteside County sheriffs departments, Sterling, Dixon and Rock Falls police departments and state police, and with input and assistance from federal authorities, is tracking down leads and working with the Lee County state’s attorney to develop strategies to locate the pair, utilizing whatever tools are at hand – talking with family members and known associates, working to obtain search warrants, etc., Simonton said.

Tips from the public also are needed.

Depending on the circumstances, anyone who might be helping the two hide could be subject to felony charges involving harboring a fugitive, aiding and abetting, and obstruction of justice, Simonton said.

Johnson and Evans are charged in Georgetown County Court with murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and grand larceny.

The two are accused of killing 66-year-old Jack Kendree Jr. in a Georgetown hotel on June 28. His body was found the morning of the 29th – Johnson’s 28th birthday.

Kendree died of blunt force trauma to the head; a bloody wrench was found in a nearby room at the Rodeway Inn where he was staying.

A woman he was with was found critically injured and bleeding outside the room.

A Ford Taurus belonging to one of the victims was found east of Harmon; it had been set on fire.

Not only are Johnson and Evans natives of Whiteside County, but they also have ties to Lee County and the Quad Cities.

Johnson has an extensive felony history, and also is wanted in Whiteside County, where a man was stabbed in an argument after a party on Aug. 17.

He is charged with being a felon using or possessing a weapon, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison, and four counts of aggravated battery, punishable by 2 to 5 years.

Johnson is white, 6-toot-2 and 225 pounds, and he has a tattoo on his face; Evans is Black, 5-foot-3 and 150 pounds. They may have altered their appearance.

If spotted, call Whiteside Crime Stoppers at 815-625-7867, Lee-Ogle Crime Stoppers at 888-228-4488, local police or 911. People who leave tips on the anonymous Crime Stoppers tip line that lead to an arrest and conviction are eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.