THORNTON — The man charged with the murder of a Gary woman was on probation for allegedly beating a pregnant woman in 2017, causing her to lose three of her quadruplets, court records state.
James McGhee, 38, of Gary, was taken into custody late Wednesday in Lake County by the FBI and Indiana State Police, said Chris Bavender, FBI public affairs specialist.
McGhee was charged with murder in the death of 27-year-old Sidne-Nichole Buchanan, of Gary, by the Lake County prosecutor's office, according to the FBI. He is being held at Lake County Jail without bond.
Buchanan, a mother of two, went missing July 27 and was last seen attending a Wiz Khalifa concert in Tinley Park.
Bavender said McGhee is the last person Buchanan was known to be with at the concert the day of her disappearance. McGhee was identified in a video Buchanan posted to Facebook before she went missing, Bavender said. He was known to frequent Gary, Hammond and Chicago.
Authorities apprehended McGhee crossing into Indiana from Illinois, according to the Lake County Prosecutor's Office.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the body found by investigators on Monday in Thornton-Lansing Road Nature Preserve in unincorporated Cook County was Buchanan, said Natalia Derevyanny, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office.
The cause and manner of death are pending at this time, she said.
“The only thing I'd like to say is that I am happy he's been apprehended,” Sabrina Short, Buchanan's grandmother, said. “Women in Northwest Indiana can sleep safely now that he's been caught. He should not have been walking the streets.”
Buchanan's mother, Kaneka Turner, of Gary, posted a formal letter on Facebook on behalf of Buchanan's family members informing the public of her death.
"Sidne was full of ambition, altruism, passion and love," the family wrote. "Sidne was a dynamic person. She cared deeply about her family and friends. Sidne was loved by many."
The family thanked the FBI, those who called the FBI with tips and people who spread the news of Buchanan's disappearance in hopes for her safe return.
Turner previously told The Times that Buchanan is the mother of a 9-year-old and 11-year-old.
"It's extremely difficult for her children," Turner said in a prior interview. "It's very tough for the family. She is very close to her siblings and very close to me. We are trying to shield her youngest from it, but her oldest is completely devastated."
On February 20, 2017, McGhee allegedly punched and kicked a pregnant woman after she told him she was moving out of his Merrillville residence and into her mother's house, court records said. After the woman told McGhee she was moving, he allegedly grabbed a kitchen knife and held it to the back of her neck, “threatening to kill her.” The woman fell to the floor and McGhee ordered her to stand up and walk up the stairs.
As she was walking up the stairs, McGhee grabbed her phone and became angry when he saw she had texted her friends. He then allegedly kicked her in the stomach, knocking her down. He began punching her and kicking her in the face and lower extremities, court records said. The woman was able to get away from McGhee and went to a hospital and the Merrillville Police Department.
Following the incident, medical reports from Community Hospital in Munster showed the woman was pregnant with four children and three of them died. The child who survived was in a separate embryonic sac from the others and blood was in the sac, medical records said. Court records alleged McGhee knew the woman was pregnant before the attack.
On February 27, 2017, McGhee was charged with aggravated battery, two counts of criminal confinement, intimidation, domestic battery resulting in serious bodily injury and domestic battery by means of a deadly weapon, according to the Superior Court of Lake County.
McGhee was taken into custody and posted an $8,000 cash bond on March 9, 2017. In June 20, 2017, the same woman's mother contacted police saying her daughter was missing. Merrillville police had the woman's phone tracked to an area near 3600 Broadway in Gary.
Police learned McGhee worked at a fireworks stand nearby, and they went to the business searching for the woman. McGhee told police she was not with him, however, officers found the woman and child in the fireworks stand bathroom after a search, court reports said.
The woman, with tears in her eyes, said she was afraid to identify herself or the child to police. The officer told the woman if she refused to identify herself, police could arrest her and get her and the child out of the building. She responded, “Yes, please do.”
Once in custody, the woman told police McGhee allegedly kept her and her 6-year-old son at the location against their wills.
She said on May 17, 2017, McGhee texted her asking to meet in the parking lot of Lee's Inn in Merrillville. She got into his vehicle and as the two were speaking, an unknown man got into the back of McGhee's car. McGhee then drove out of the parking lot and the unknown man punched the woman in the head, court documents said. McGhee allegedly told him, “If she gets out of the car, shoot her.”
McGhee then drove the woman to his Merrillville home and threatened to harm her family if she didn't obey him, court documents alleged. At one point, McGhee allowed the woman to go to her son's school and pick him up. She said she did this because she was afraid for her family's safety.
McGhee was apprehended and charged on June 28, 2017, with kidnapping, two counts of criminal confinement, intimidation and invasion of privacy.
On August 13, 2018, McGhee filed a plea agreement, pleading guilty to intimidation, a level 5 felony. On October 11, 2018, the plea was accepted and all other charges were dismissed.
A judge sentenced him to three years in prison but suspended the prison term in favor of probation, giving McGhee credit for 483 days in jail, which was subtracted from his sentence.
While he completed his prison sentence, McGhee is currently still on probation for those charges, according to court records.
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