Author Jim Newton
A man charged along with his wife for allegedly confining their 10-year-old daughter to a Waukegan basement because they believed she was demonically possessed has been found unfit for trial.
Randy Swopes, 48, will be transferred to a secure treatment facility in Elgin for evaluation and treatment until he is found fit, after which time his case he will be returned for further proceedings, according to Assistant State’s Attorney George Pappas.
Swopes and his wife, Katherine, face child endangerment and unlawful restraint charges, which carry potential prison terms of one to three years in prison or a probationary sentence upon conviction.
At a fitness trial Tuesday before Lake County Circuit Judge Christopher Stride and a seven-member jury, state witness Dr. Kimberly Loucks, a staff psychologist with Psychological Services of Lake County, said that after court-ordered jailhouse evaluations with Randy Swopes, she believes he is unfit for legal proceedings.
Loucks said Swopes cut a second interview off on Aug. 13 and refused to participate in certain tests, but she testified she saw enough to conclude that Swopes suffers from delusions.
Among Swopes’ beliefs, she said, are that prominent Lake County judges and lawyers, as well as the mayor of Chicago and living past presidents, were let into his home by his daughter to participate in secret, sometimes sexual rituals.
He described them as members of “the illuminati,” Loucks said. Generally, that term describes elite or secret organizations sometimes claiming beyond-average enlightenment.
Loucks also testified that Swopes displays deep distrust in the legal system and would be unlikely to work with attorneys to assist in his defense.
When asked by Stride if Loucks believed Swopes could be restored to fitness within a year, she said yes. Loucks added she believes certain medications could help clarify Swopes’ thinking process.
Following Loucks’ testimony and after a lunch break, defense attorneys Jason Powell and Sharmila Manak moved for a directed finding that Swopes was unfit and that the state had not met its burden to prove that he was fit. With no objection from Pappas, Stride agreed and issued the finding.
With that, the jury was thanked and dismissed without having to deliberate or reach a verdict.
Circuit Judge Mark Levitt ordered the mental evaluation for Swopes this summer, saying that some of his words and actions in court gave him pause as to the defendant’s fitness for legal proceedings.
At a status hearing before Levitt, Swopes had claimed that his daughter, the victim in the case, told him several prominent local judges and attorneys, as well as some of his family members, were involved with rituals involving the child.
He said that she claimed they “forced her to drink blood” and that she was drugged until she saw “dark images” and was also made to participate in sexual activities.
Swopes also said he “baptized” the girl and can cleanse others who are similarly afflicted.
Swopes remains in custody, with bail set at $750,000.
His wife, Katherine Swopes, 49, faces the same charges as her husband and is acting as her own attorney. She was freed by Levitt on a signature bond in August with a 24-hour curfew and no-contact order involving her children and husband.
Prosecutors have said in court earlier that the girl was forced to live in the basement for roughly a year, dealing with flooding when it rained and using a bucket to bathe.
The case began July 17, when Waukegan police reportedly received an anonymous 911 call stating that someone was being held captive in the basement of the couple’s home in the 200 block of Liberty Street.
According to police reports, it is believed the girl had limited contact with her three minor her siblings. The couple told detectives their daughter was in the basement because “they believed she was possessed by a demon,” according to Waukegan police..
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services officials said the couple’s four minor children were taken into protective custody after the arrests.
The girl found in the basement was hospitalized and then placed in a foster home.
DCFS officials confirmed that Randy and Katherine Swopes have had several contacts with the agency since 1994, and have had their children removed from their care in the past.
Randy Swopes is scheduled for a status hearing Dec. 11, Pappas said, at which time it is expected that an initial report from the treatment facility may be avai
Subscribe To OurWeekly Update
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.