May 15, 2007

Prosecutors push for death penalty in cable guy killings

The Cook County state’s attorney’s office announced last Wednesday that it would seek the death penalty for Anthony Triplett, a cable TV repairman charged with the rape and murder of two women, including Hyde Park resident Janice Ordidge.

At a May 9 status hearing, prosecutors said the pre-trial decision to ask for the death penalty stems from what they called “a cold and calculating torture” of the victims, according to Cook County state’s attorney spokesperson Tandra Simonton. Prosecutors further based the decision on their claim that “a murder was committed during the course of a felony” and that the case involved more than one murder victim, Simonton said.

The announcement came nearly seven months after police found Ordidge, 39, strangled to death in the bathtub of her Hyde Park Twin Towers apartment at 1649 East 50th Street.

On October 21, 2006, Triplett, who at the time worked for Premier Cable, an independent contractor for Comcast, made a house call to install a high-speed internet line in Ordidge’s residence, according to prosecutors. Ordidge, who was present during the installation, was reportedly on the phone with her boyfriend and told him she felt uncomfortable after Triplett had made several inappropriate comments and tried flirting with her. The boyfriend told police that Ordidge said she would call him back and then hung up the phone. She never called back.

The next day, employees who worked with Ordidge at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where she was a nurse, became concerned after she failed to show up for work.

Police found Ordidge’s body on October 23, classifying her death as a homicide and reporting signs of sexual assault. On October 25, police arrested and took DNA samples from Triplett after employment records confirmed he was at the apartment during the suspected time of the murder. Triplett was eventually charged with Ordidge’s murder after being arrested three times in connection with the case.

“At that time, we had no probable cause to arrest him,” Commander Patricia Walsh of the Chicago Police Department told the Maroon in January. “We had no evidence that directly linked him to this crime.”

The case against Triplett also involves the December 8 murder of Urzula Sakowska, 23, who was also found dead in the bathtub of her southwest Chicago home. Prosecutors claim to have at least two witnesses ready to testify that they saw Triplett’s cable van parked in front of Sakowska’s home on the morning of her murder.

Triplett was already being held without bail when police charged him with Sakowska’s murder and sexual assault. The new charges prompted police to examine the DNA samples collected from Triplett after the Ordidge murder. On December 14, the DNA evidence collected at both crime scenes returned a positive match for Triplett, according to Simonton.

Simonton said Triplett, who had no prior criminal record, will next appear in court on June 4 for a status hearing, one of several to come in both the prosecution and defense attorneys’ preparation for trial.