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Who killed a hair salon owner in her own home? Was it her boyfriend who was sleeping at the residence, or someone else?
In the early morning hours of September 2, 2012, Chicago homicide detectives responded to a 911 call.
Detectives found a broken handgun on the bedroom floor and a paring knife missing from a kitchen block. Blood spatter on walls and signs of a struggle indicated “somebody was fighting for their life,” John Korolis, a Chicago PD homicide detective, told “Sleeping with Death,” airing Sundays at 7/6c on Oxygen.
The fact that Yolanda had been shot and stabbed indicated “overkill,” said Michele Wood, a fellow Chicago PD homicide detective, adding that the killer “was set on making sure she didn’t survive.”
Just before 6 a.m. Yolanda’s son, Qaw’mane Wilson, an aspiring rapper, came to the building to see his mother. He broke down in tears when he was told that she’d been killed.
Wyatt, who called 911, was found to be bleeding from lacerations to his head and face and was treated by paramedics. While speaking with police, he told them he had recently reconnected with Yolanda. He said he was initially awakened by a phone ringing and Yolanda speaking to someone. Then, he heard the gunshots. He tried tackling the man, which was how he got his injuries, but the man escaped.
He raised suspicion, though, when he told investigators that he had cleaned up the scene.
“Why was Chris left alive?” said Korolis. “Something just didn’t add up.”
Evidence technicians scoured the damaged home for items to test for DNA. No prints were found on the gun.
“Everything was covered in blood,” said Wood. “So we also had to figure out whose blood it was.”
Police canvassed the building but no residents heard the gunshots. Wood also interviewed Qaw’mane, who said he was unaware that his mother had rekindled her relationship with Wayatt.
Qaw’mane indicted to the detective that he believed Wyatt was behind the murder, Wood told producers. Yolanda’s sister told investigators that Wyatt had had some violent altercations with Yolanda in the past.
Investigators examined the apartment building’s surveillance footage. They saw that at 4:32 a.m., a man approached the main entrance, punched in a code, and entered the building. He wore a hoodie and was carrying clothes on a hanger and detergent bottle. At 4:46 a.m. he exited the building. He was wearing a different hoodie.
As he left, he passed by another man who was identified as a resident. Detectives questioned him and found no link to the crime.
Detectives turned their focus back to Wyatt, who agreed to take a polygraph test. The results indicated that he was being deceptive but investigators made no arrest at this point, as they had no evidence he was connected to the murder.
So, they focused on the surveillance footage and noticed that the man entering the building was wearing headphones. One of the items of evidence in Yolanda’s apartment was a broken headphone cord.
Investigators tested the headphone found at the crime scene. The DNA on it was not a match for any samples in the nationwide database.
Blood evidence in the apartment showed that Yolanda’s blood was confined to the bedroom, while blood elsewhere belonged to Wyatt. That lessened the odds that the struggle in the home was between Yolanda and Wyatt.
Weeks passed, and no new leads turned up. Detectives worked every possible angle, including Yolanda’s husband who was serving a life sentence for a double homicide. Police considered Yolanda’s murder as possible payback, but this line of investigation got no traction.
A year went by until phone records provided a possible clue. Investigators realized that Yolanda had two phones.
“We saw that on one of the phone lines there was a lot of activity before the murder, during the murder, and after the murder,” said Korolis. Then the activity stopped.
Detectives tried to contact Qaw’mane for information on who she might have been calling, but they couldn’t reach him.
They soon realized that the phone number that Qaw’mane provided to detectives was actually the second phone number registered to Yolanda. Thirteen months into the murder investigation detectives now knew that Qaw’mane was talking on Yolanda’s second cell phone at the same time she was killed.
They determined that the person he was talking with was Eugene Spencer. Detectives issued an investigative alert for both him and for Qaw’mane. On December 23, 2013, detectives tracked down Qaw’mane, who said that he’d been trying to get in touch with them.
“That was a little odd,” said Korolis. “Qaw’mane related that the phone number that we were discussing was actually his phone number under his mom’s account.”
Qaw’mane admitted that he knew Spencer from the neighborhood and identified the man entering Yolanda’s building the night of the murder as Spencer. Qaw’mane then told detectives that when Spencer went to his mom’s building it was just supposed to be a robbery.
Spencer was rounded up and brought in for questioning. Asked if he’d ever been in Yolanda’s apartment, Spencer said, “I went inside and some guy tried to kill me,” according to Wood.
Detectives realized that no one knew Wyatt would be there.
Spencer admitted that he shot and stabbed Yolanda, and revealed Qaw’mane had given him the access code to the entrance.
“Qaw’mane had spoken to his mother about 40 minutes earlier and told her that he was coming over,” said Korolis. “So Yolanda was expecting her son to be at the front door. The real mastermind was Qaw’mane Wilson.”
Investigators determined that in addition to supplying Spencer with the gun, he had given him clothes and detergent to make it look like he lived in the building. They also learned that Qaw’mane’s former girlfriend, Loriana Johnson, drove Spencer to Yolanda’s apartment building.
When the murder was happening, Qaw’mane was on the phone with Spencer, according to Wood.
“Qaw’mane tells him, ‘Make sure that bitch is dead,” she told producers. That explains why he stabbed Yolanda after shooting her in the head.
He had offered Spencer $4,200 to kill his mother. Afterward, he gave him $70, according to Korolis.
“Qaw’mane’s motive for having his mother murdered was pure greed,” said investigative journalist Steph Watts.
Out of work and with a stalled career as a rapper, he wanted her life insurance policy, her business, and her car. After her death, Qaw'mane withdrew nearly $70,000 from his murdered mother’s accounts and spent the money on flashy clothes and cars, nbcchicago.com reported.
On December 24, 2013, Qaw’mane Wilson was arrested for his mother’s murder. In January 2020, he was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to 99 years in prison.
Eugene Spencer was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to 100 years in prison, the Chicago-Sun Times reported. Loriana Johnson pleaded guilty to robbery and served seven years in prison before being released on parole.
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