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Jurors in Christopher Vaughn murder case will get to hear cryptic poem

Christopher Vaughn leaves Will County Courthouse June. |  Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media

Christopher Vaughn leaves the Will County Courthouse in June. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media

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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.

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Updated: September 17, 2012 12:54PM

Prosecutors will get to show the jury deciding Christopher Vaughn’s fate a cryptic poem — part of a coded journal allegedly taken from his cell in fall 2007 — that they say makes reference to a dancer Vaughn met at a Chicago strip club.

But Vaughn’s defense attorneys apparently want to show jurors a lot more. They withdrew their objection to prosecutors’ use of the journal when they appeared Wednesday before Judge Daniel Rozak. And they called Vaughn’s journal “fair game.”

Prosecutors said the poem, found four months after Vaughn’s wife and three children were gunned down in the family SUV, appeared to be a list of things to do, including: “ask maya the question.” They think that’s a reference to a dancer Vaughn met at a gentlemen’s club in Chicago. They say she was an “unwitting” part of Vaughn’s plan to start a new life.

They said his poem was an admission that he planned to reach out to her one day.

Vaughn’s wife, Kimberly, and their three children — Abigayle, 12; Cassandra, 11; and Blake, 8 — were found shot to death June 14, 2007, in their SUV, parked on a frontage road west of Interstate 55. Vaughn had minor gunshot wounds on his leg and wrist and claimed his wife had shot him. He said Kimberly turned the gun on their children and shot herself after he left the car.

He said his wife was angry at him that day because he had confessed he had an affair.

Investigators didn’t buy it, though. Within days of the shootings, Vaughn was charged with all four murders. Prosecutors have said Vaughn might have wanted to leave his suburban life behind and go live in the Canadian wilderness. His wife also had a $1 million life insurance policy that listed him as a beneficiary.

The poem was found in Vaughn’s jail cell on Oct. 16, 2007. Prosecutors said it’s written in a coded alphabet decrypted by the FBI, but attorneys told the judge Wednesday that a key to the code was found.

Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Fitzgerald said he plans to show jurors only 15 lines from the journal. Defense attorney George Lenard said he would like to show them more. Lenard and Fitzgerald acknowledged that a previous court order barred them from talking to the jury about Vaughn’s religious beliefs — including a purported belief in Druidism — that are apparently mentioned in the journal. “We’re not planning to get into the religious aspects,” Lenard said.

The dancer allegedly mentioned in Vaughn’s poem has told investigators that Vaughn visited her at the gentlemen’s club several times, according to court records. She said she had several conversations with him in which he shared his plans to divorce his wife and move to Canada. She said he gave her a poem about “ancient souls” and bad timing that she turned it over to police.

Lawyers have said Vaughn visited another dancer who said Vaughn spent “large sums of money” at Scores in Stone Park and lied about being a single man from Naperville. She said he gave her a strange feeling and made comments about “knowing what would happen in the future.”

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