Who is the mystery woman in Christopher Vaughn’s poem?
By JON SEIDEL Sun-Times Media firstname.lastname@example.org August 16, 2012 9:46AM
Christopher Vaughn leaves the Will County Courthouse in June. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media
This is the unencrypted version of a coded poem prosecutors said was found in Christopher Vaughn’s jail cell:
My Earls List.
Insurance money for niece and nephew college fund.
Tell mom and dad Eric and Adam how they truely mean to me.
Help mom and dad build the cabin.
Jeep jamboree in Alaska with dad.
Apologize to Christi Rathmell.
Pay my debts and never use credit cards or card balance.
Visit Jackie and Patty in Ka and Tony and Renda in Tekas.
Ask maya the question.
See both sunset and sunrise the same day.
Updated: September 18, 2012 6:15AM
The coded poem prosecutors say was taken from Christopher Vaughn’s jail cell in 2007 might allude to a dancer Vaughn met at a Chicago strip club years ago, but she’s not the only woman mentioned in its translation.
The excerpt from his “daily journal” obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times appears to be a list of things to do. Not only does it say “Ask maya the question” — an apparent reference to the dancer — it also says “Apologize to Christi Rathmell.”
The woman formerly known by that name still lives in Missouri, where she said she met Vaughn when they were about 14 years old. She said she’s been married for 16 years, has a “wonderful life” and asked that her married name not be used.
She said she dated Vaughn as a teenager, but they broke up at the urging of Vaughn’s mother. She didn’t want him to be in a serious relationship when he went off to college.
“I don’t feel that he owes me an apology,” Rathmell said.
She also said she hasn’t seen in Vaughn in 19 years and is in no position to judge whether he’s guilty of the crime for which he’ll go on trial Monday.
“I’ve just been praying for his whole family,” Rathmell said.
Vaughn is charged with the murder of his wife, Kimberly, and their three children — Abigayle, 12; Cassandra, 11; and Blake, 8. They were found shot to death June 14, 2007, in their SUV, which was parked on a frontage road west of Interstate 55.
The family was supposed to be traveling to a Springfield water park.
Vaughn flagged down a motorist that day. He had minor gunshot wounds on his leg and wrist and claimed his wife had shot him. He said Kimberly turned the gun on the children and shot herself after he left the car.
His attorneys have said Kimberly was angry at him that day because he had confessed he had an affair. They’ve also pointed to an anti-seizure drug she was taking when she died that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns could increase the risk of suicidal behavior.
Prosecutors, though, have suggested the Oswego man wanted to leave the Chicago area and go live in the Canadian wilderness. They’ve asked Judge Daniel Rozak for permission to show jurors the coded poem found in his jail cell Oct. 16, 2007.
They’ve pointed to a line in the poem — “ask maya the question” — that they think is a reference to the dancer he met at a strip club. They said she was an “unwitting” part of Vaughn’s plan to start a new life, and it’s an admission he planned to reach out to her.
Vaughn’s attorneys didn’t object to the use of the poem, but they said the rest of his journal is fair game except for any references to Vaughn’s religious beliefs. They’ve already been barred from the trial by the judge.