Nearly 12 years into four life sentences he is serving for the coldblooded killings of his wife and three young children, convicted murderer Christopher Vaughn has been moved from a maximum-security state prison to a medium-security facility.
Christopher Vaughn, 44, was transferred this week from maximum-security Menard Correction Center in downstate Chester to Pinckneyville Correctional Center, about 30 miles away.
Vaughn was convicted in 2012 of killing his wife, Kimberly Vaughn, and three children — Blake, 8, Cassandra, 11, and Abigayle, 12.
Early in the morning of June 14, 2007, the Vaughn family left their Oswego home and headed to a Springfield water park. Along the way, Vaughn pulled off Interstate 55 in Channahon and headed down a secluded stretch of the frontage road, ostensibly to check a cargo bin on the roof of his SUV.
After exiting the SUV, Vaughn reached through the open passenger side window, grabbed his wife, stuck a pistol under her chin and pulled the trigger, a prosecutor said during his murder trial.
Vaughn then methodically murdered his three children, putting a bullet into the head and chest of each one.
[Shaw Media File Photo]
A crime scene photo showed Blake, Cassandra and Abigayle dead under blankets in the back of the SUV. A paramedic testified at the trial to finding a Harry Potter book and stuffed animal near one of the bodies.
After murdering his entire family, Vaughn wounded himself, grazing his wrist with a bullet and shooting his leg. He then placed the gun on the floor of the SUV between his dead wife's feet and staggered back up the road.
Vaughn flagged down a passing motorist who made a call to the police. Vaughn then explained that it was his wife who killed the children and wounded him before taking her own life, a story that did not hold up for him in court.
Vaughn carried out his murderous plot to free himself from his family so he could relocate to the Yukon wilderness with an unsuspecting stripper from a club he frequented.
[Shaw Media File Photo]
Vaughn's crimes may be unimaginably horrific, but they have no bearing on whether he is held at a maximum-security or medium-security prison, Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lindsey Hess said.
"It doesn't," said Hess, explaining Vaughn has been exceedingly well-behaved, making him eligible for transfer to a less restrictive prison.
Vaughn’s good behavior may have gotten him out of maximum security, but Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, whose office prosecuted the case, said it won’t help him once he dies.
“I don’t have any control over the Department of Corrections, but Christopher Vaughn will receive no leniency for all eternity from the torment and excruciating agony that he will suffer in the raging fires of hell,” Glasgow said.
The attorney who represented Vaughn at his murder trial, George Lenard, said he was not surprised to hear his former client has been a model prisoner.
"I never had a problem with him ever," Lenard said.
[Paul Newton /The Southern Illinoisan via AP file]
Vaughn was calm and reserved during his murder trial, even when images of his family, both during life and after they were killed, were shown to the courtroom. He was so calm and reserved, in fact, that at one point, Lenard asked the jury not to hold it against him.
And prior to his trial, Vaughn stayed out of trouble at the Will County jail, Lenard said.
"No, and it doesn't surprise me that he wasn't a problem in the Department of Corrections either," Lenard said. "Usually, people who are difficult in the county jail are difficult in the Department of Corrections, in my opinion at least."