In 1988, a group of young men killed off-duty Chicago-area Police Officer John Mathews, beating him to death with a baseball bat.
One of them served 11 years for his role in the death, ABC7 Chicago reports, and isn't young anymore. Since leaving prison, Dean Chavez has spent years coaching youth baseball, something Mathews' son, Joey, only just learned.
"The fact is, a man who killed another man using a baseball bat is coaching kids to swing a baseball bat. It boggles the mind," Joey Mathews, 30, told ABC7. Mathews said he was 4 when his father was murdered and doesn't have a single memory of him. His sister, Anne, was 6. Now a teacher, she told WGN-TV, “Unfortunately, he (Chavez) forfeited his right to be a role model and a mentor when he took my father’s life."
Chavez does have his supporters, including Jennifer Castillo, the mother of one of Chavez's recent players. She told ABC7, "He coached my son for two years, and I never saw him angry."
Chavez didn't speak on camera, but he reportedly said he is trying to make amends and help his community. Some members knew about Chavez's dark history, ABC7 reported, but others, including the Mathews family, say they don't understand why a background check didn't stop him from coaching children.
Chavez left his position as coach and local baseball board member last month after several confrontations. He reportedly said he has no plans to continue coaching or volunteering.
Joey Mathews is continuing the fight to change league bylaws. He told NBC Chicago that league rules cover only sexual offenses or offenses against a minor. A community meeting is reportedly planned for Wednesday evening.
“It’s a slap in the face to every law enforcement officer out there," Anne and Joey Mathews' mother told WGN-TV. "He murdered my husband with a baseball bat ... and he’s teaching kids how to play baseball. It’s ridiculous.”
Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz).