New light was shed last week on one of the south suburban area's most
sensationalized and unsolved murder cases, that of seven-year-old Jaclyn
Dowaliby of Midlothian.
The Cook County State's Attorney's office acknowledged it is reviewing new
information regarding the girl's strangulation death in September 1988 -
information the office received last month from two authors who recently
finished a 450-page book on the case.
Interviews conducted by authors Rob Warden and David Protess revealed that
Timothy Guess, Jaclyn's uncle on her biological father's side, knows
significant details about the case, some of which did not come out during the
Guess was initially considered a suspect in the case, but was cleared days
after the murder when several patrons of a restaurant in Harvey confirmed he
was at the restaurant Sept. 9, 1988, the night Jaclyn is believed to have been
Jaclyn was reported missing Sept. 10 by her parents, Cynthia and David
Dowaliby, who were later charged with her murder.
Four days after Jaclyn was reported missing, her body was found dumped in a
field in Blue Island with a rope wrapped around her neck.
Dowaliby was convicted of Jaclyn's murder in May 1990, two days after
Cynthia was acquitted. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison for the crime,
but was released in April 1991 when the Illinois Supreme Court reversed the
The Dowalibys have maintained that their daughter was kidnapped and slain by
an intruder who entered their home through a basement window.
The latest twists in the case stems from a Nov. 18 television episode of
"Unsolved Mysteries." After the show aired, the station received more than
1,500 tips on an 800 number, Warden said. The tips were forwarded to the
Two of the tips came from people who said Guess was not at the Park Avenue
restaurant in Harvey the night Jaclyn was killed, Warden said.
The tips contradict information provided by three employees of the
restaurant days after the murder that Guess was working in the restaurant from
9 p.m. Sept. 9 until 6 a.m. Sept. 10.
"Two of the calls were about the Timothy Guess alibi," Warden said. One of
the callers gave the authors the name of a customer who was at the restaurant
Sept. 9, who later told Warden and Protess that Guess was not in the restaurant
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Warden and Protess contacted three other customers who claim Guess was not
at the restaurant the night of Jaclyn's death.
Guess, now 31, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, checked himself into the
psychiatric ward at Ingalls Memorial Hospital on Monday. His brother, James,
was Jaclyn's natural father.
But employees at Park Avenue restaurant, at the intersection of Park Avenue
and 157th Street in Harvey, maintain Guess was there the night of Jaclyn's
murder. They describe Guess as a gentle man who is incapable of murder.
"We're like best friends," said Sheila, a waitress at the restaurant who
asked that her last name not be used. "We went out drinking together a lot. He
never took advantage of me even when I was so drunk out of my mind."
Sheila said Guess refrained from drinking because of his medication.
"He's friendly, nice, always smiling. He's in here all the time. He buses
tables when the waitresses get busy. He plays the (game) machines and drinks
ice tea. If he's not here, he's at Denny's. Timmy can't hurt nobody," she said.
"He can't abuse no woman or little girl."
But even Sheila acknowledged that Guess spoke of a spirit that would come to
him from time to time and tell him things. "He's a little wacko," she said. "I
didn't think much of it."
During a 5-hour interview Dec. 17 at Denny's restaurant in Harvey, Guess
allegedly told Warden and Protess certain facts about Jaclyn's murder, which he
(Guess) claimed the spirit told him.
According to Warden, Guess knew that a light in Jaclyn's closet was on but
the light in her bedroom was off the night she was murdered. Although that fact
was documented in a police report, it was not made public, nor was it discussed
at the trial, Warden said.
Further, Guess provided the authors with detailed descriptions of the
Dowaliby home, which he professes never to have seen, and told the authors that
one of Jaclyn's hands was clenched when she died and the other hand was open.
In fact, one of Jaclyn's hands was clenched when her body was found.
Guess said the spirit told him that Jaclyn's closet had many clothes in it,
but very few dresses, an accurate assessment that also was not discussed at the
trial, Warden said.
"He's not dim-witted," Warden said of Guess. "He's mentally ill.
Warden denied that he and Protess are pointing the finger at Guess.
"All we are saying is that his alibi has been undermined and he has
knowledge of a series of arcane facts, some of which we weren't aware of until
he told us, and that this should be checked into"