One weekend in April 1991 was unique in Quincy's history, a time no one would like to see duplicated, when five people died as the result of three incidents.
The Quincy Fire Department lost one of its own when John H. Spencer, a 22-year veteran, died of a heart attack while fighting a house fire on the city's northwest side on April 14.
In the early morning hours of April 14, a young mother and two of her children died in a fire at 624 N. 11th. Carla Williams, 21, Jessica Williams, 23 months, and Charles Williams, 5 months, died in a blaze. Only Williams' 4-year-old son survived the fire.
Later that day, police found the body of a Quincy man, 43-year-old Earl E. Bundy Sr., stuffed in the trunk of his car, which was partially submerged in Quincy Bay at Bob Bangert Park. During the overnight hours of April 13, he had been at Williams' house and allegedly tried to attack her sexually. Williams' cousin, Johnny Presley, came to her defense.
Presley admitted to hitting Bundy with a mop handle three times during a 20-minute fight. An Adams County jury later found Presley guilty of first-degree murder in the beating and he was sentenced to 75 years in prison.
Presley had a co-conspirator, William Friday. Friday was in the room with Presley when the beating happened. One witness said Friday kicked a fallen Bundy and took his wallet.
Witnesses said Presley and Friday wrapped Bundy in a blanket and put him in the trunk. Presley said it was Friday's idea to put Bundy in the trunk and to roll the car into the river. Friday maintained his innocence throughout the case, which grabbed headlines in The Herald-Whig throughout most of 1991.
Friday said he was afraid of Presley. He denied helping put Bundy's body in the trunk, which contradicted two prosecution witnesses. Two defense witnesses said Presley had admitted to them that he beat and kicked Bundy, and that he sent the car into the river.
Still, it took a jury just three hours to find Friday guilty of first-degree murder and attempted robbery on Oct. 3, 1991. A month later, Judge Dennis Cashman sentenced Friday to 45 years in prison.
Friday's sentence came to an end on Friday. With credit for good behavior, Friday's debt to society has been paid with 22 years in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections. He left the Jacksonville Correctional Center and returned home to his family.
At the time of Friday's sentencing, Illinois did not have "Truth in Sentencing" laws, which meant those convicted of first-degree murder had to serve their entire sentences. Had that been the case, Friday would not have become eligible for release until 2036.
Presley isn't eligible for release until Oct. 11, 2028. If he had to serve his full sentence, he wouldn't be eligible until 2066, when he would be 98 years old.
It's hard to fathom spending more than 20 years in prison. The list of things Friday, now 44, has missed during his incarceration are innumerable. Spending that time believing he was innocent of the crime, which he has always contended, had to be difficult.
The pain hasn't been eased for the families of Bundy and the Williamses, either.