Chicago, Illinois — For Jewel Mitchell, it was the worst Christmas of her life, the pain so raw she secluded herself in her bedroom to shield her two young daughters.
It was 1996, and the man she was supposed to marry – the man her girls idolized – had already been gone two years. But this Christmas, he was supposed to come home and pick up where they had left off:
Walking Latoni and Latoya to school. Playing Chutes and Ladders with them on Friday nights. Taking their mother on dates to the lakefront to watch the waves of Lake Michigan dance.
But Jewel’s fiancé wasn’t returning to their home on Chicago’s South Side. Five days earlier, Dean Cage, had been sentenced to 40 years in prison for an aggravated sexual assault he said he didn’t commit. Jewel was his alibi. At the time of the attack, she said, he was asleep next to her.
The day they’d planned to marry had come and gone with Dean in the Cook County Jail, unable to afford bond set at half a million dollars. When his trial date finally arrived — just two months before this miserable Christmas — Jewel listened to a young girl describe the man who brutally attacked her as she walked to her bus stop on a dark November morning. She was just 15.