Family of murdered officer outraged after convicted killer found coaching baseball in neighborhood

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Twenty-six years after a Chicago police officer was beaten to death, his family is outraged after discovering the man convicted in his murder is coaching baseball in the same South Side neighborhood.

In May of 1988, Officer John Mathews was viciously beaten to death a stone's throw from the family home in the Hegeswisch neighborhood. Five were charged in what the judge called one of the most brutal attacks ever brought before his court.

One of the people charged, Dean Chavez, served 11 years for second-degree murder.

Chavez coached baseball on the South Side for six years before Mathews’ family found out. They protested to the Babe Ruth Baseball Organization, the local board that let him work with children.

Chavez was fired. He told WGN tonight he has paid his debt to society and just wants to go on with his life. He realizes coaching kids won't be a part of that.

But the Mathews family wants the board gone as well.

Mathews’s daughter Anne was 6-years-old when her father was killed. Now she is a Chicago Public Schools teacher and says she was outraged to learn one of her father's killers was back in the old neighborhood coaching kids baseball.

"Unfortunately, he forfeited his right to be a role model and a mentor when he took my father's life,” she said about Chavez.

Her mother Laura says, “It's a slap in the face to every law enforcement officer out there. He murdered my husband with a baseball bat … and he's teaching kids how to play baseball. It’s ridiculous."

The baseball board did not comment to WGN. A public meeting is planned for Wednesday night.

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    • Karen

      It’s a slap in the face to the Mathews family and the Hegewisch community that he would be allowed to coach there. He may have paid his debt to society, but his presence would be a constant reminder of the brutal murder he took part in.

  • inkdmetal

    Our society has created the penal system around the concept of rehabilitation vs retribution. His debt was determinded by a judge: 11 yrs. Its been paid. He remains out of trouble and appears to be contributing to society. I dont see the problem people are having with this. If the family is still having issues with anger and fear maybe they should consider counseling, you know get to the real cure for all that anguish. No amount of revenge or retribution will ever bring them happines.

    • Dave

      Ink, don’t be a moron it’s not revenge. The board is required to do background checks on all volunteers. Evidently they did not! Cop killers don’t deserve a second chance he should be rotting in jail.

    • Michael Payne

      TOO BAD it wasn’t Y O U under the Baseball Bat “inkd”!
      He paid a “legal” debt — He has paid N O T H I N G on his Moral Debt (Hari-Kari would fulfill that debt quite easily) And whether revenge or retribution would give them happiness or not is “inkd’s” opinion, and has NOTHING to do with what they might feel. Pushing the button would make me feel “all warm inside” (the Killer too) if that was my Family Member.

    • PaytonB

      His debt was determined to be 11 years for taking many more years of life than that from a man? He may have done his jail sentence, but he does not deserve to live happily. He lost that right when he took another man’s life.

  • Jon Sochacki

    Dick, you sound like a person who brings up problems without solution. Instead of blaming the Mathews family for the incompetent board, who is suppose to protect our kids from animals like this, you should thank them. If it wasn’t for them , this mater would be brushed under the rug like they wanted it to and not into the light! They kept this hidden from the Parrents! So if your at all worried about the 20 kids, pass a real background check and coach the team!

  • Keri

    It makes me sick to see some of these posted comments. This man did pay his debt to society under Illinois law that is true. However the issue here is that there are some liberties that should not be regained after certain crimes– One being working with children after committing a vicious murder. The laws across the country need to change on this issue and that is what the victim’s family will try to accomplish. Their pain is real and will not diminish with time. But no one should accuse them of getting revenge by removing this man as coach, they are simply standing up for what is right. Dean Chavez has the right to live his life in peace but should never be allowed to be a teacher, a nurse, or a coach. Laws are already in place that prevents the teaching and nursing and now its time to make sure he also cannot coach.

  • George Hemesath III

    On July 30 at 7pm the League is having an open meeting at Steve’s Lounge in Hegewisch. 13200 S Baltimore Ave., Chicago, IL 60633. He is bringing family, friends, players and parents (the few that support him) to show support and why he continues to deserve to be a role model to young kids.
    My family is hoping to reach as many police and firefighters who are able to attend the meeting to show the League that we will not stand for murderers mentoring young minds.
    I would also like the entire Babe Ruth Board to step down due to their gross negligence by keeping him as a coach, having full knowledge of his history, especially in the neighborhood he caused so much harm to.
    If anyone can help and attend the meeting on 30 July at 7:00 PM it would be much appreciated. Thank you!
    Joseph Mathews, Cicero FD

  • Susan

    This was not brought back to life by us. We would rather pur life go on and npt have to relive this all over again. My brother is gone and we think about about him every day. I do not thinl this is right!!! I feel sp bad for my sister in law Laura as she has to relive this nirhtmare all over. And if think that Dean or any of the other guys should live a joyous life you are nuts!!!
    Sister of John

    • Michael Payne

      I am so sorry for what has happened to you, and you all have my Sincerest Condolences.
      I simply cannot understand how someone could feel they’ve “paid their debt” after killing someone.

      I am not a Religious person, but he WILL have to face the consequences of his actions someday — and his “legal debt” being paid won’t make a damm bit of difference to St. Peter.

      “Going Down, hold on please”

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