Innocence Project identified suspect
A man who is now suspected in a 1984 murder - but who remained free at the time after another man was sent to prison - went on a "reign of terror" shortly after the slaying and beat a man to death seven years later, court records show.
The case shows how devastating a wrongful conviction can be, said Byron Lichstein, an attorney with the Wisconsin Innocence Project.
"There's a public safety aspect to these wrongful convictions," Lichstein said Wednesday. "When there's a wrongful conviction, the person wrongly convicted isn't the only one who suffers."
The Innocence Project, saying it has new DNA evidence and a signed confession, has identified Moses Price Jr. as being responsible for the 1984 murder of Ione Cychosz of Milwaukee.
Cychosz, 62, was a neighbor of Robert Lee Stinson, who spent 23 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of her murder.
Stinson was freed last year when the Innocence Project produced evidence showing that DNA and bite marks found on Cychosz could not have come from Stinson.
Now, the University of Wisconsin Law School program says it has evidence showing that the DNA recovered from Cychosz's clothing belongs to Price, who is serving a 35-year prison sentence for the 1991 murder of a Milwaukee man and other crimes.
Milwaukee County Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern said his office has a new suspect in Cychosz's murder, but he would not identify the suspect. He said he expects his office will decide before the end of the month whether to file new charges.
It is not known whether police investigated Price as a potential suspect in Cychosz's murder, but it is clear that he went on to rob, assault and kill.
Cychosz's body was found outside of her home on N. 7th St. by a neighbor on the morning of Nov. 3, 1984.
Her clothing and other personal items were scattered around the backyard and, although spermatozoa was found on her body, the number of cells was too few to help identify a suspect, according to court records.
Bite marks on Cychosz became the key evidence. Investigators arrested Stinson and said the marks could have come only from him.
Price remained free.
'Reign of terror'
On Dec. 2, 1984, a month after Cychosz's murder, Price went on a five-hour crime spree that a prosecutor called a "reign of terror."
A woman told police that while she was walking in the 1500 block of W. Hadley St. about 4:30 a.m., she was approached by Price, who pointed a knife at her and threatened to kill her.
Price took $50 from her and raped her on the playground outside of Hopkins Street School, according to a criminal complaint.
Another woman told police that about 9 a.m. that day Price confronted her with a knife at N. Teutonia and W. North avenues and threatened to kill her. He stole two purses, cash, her arthritis medicine and other items, the criminal complaint says.
Authorities said Price also committed four other armed robberies that day. But he was charged only with robbing the two women and with the rape, court records show.
In a plea bargain, the rape charge was dropped, and Price pleaded guilty to the armed two robberies.
At Price's sentencing in January 1985, his attorney said Price gave no explanation for his crimes, but she hoped that, at 24, he would mature, take care of his drinking problem and that "there has to be some light at the end of the tunnel."
Price was sentenced to eight years in prison.
That same month, a jury found Stinson, then 20, guilty of Cychosz's murder. He was later sentenced to life in prison.
Price didn't speak to the judge, Ralph Gorenstein, during his sentencing.
But court records show that two months later, in March 1985, he wrote Gorenstein, saying "all I was trying to do was have some kind of contact with people and the liquor is what trigger me to have it in such a way, not that I was willfully trying to hurt people or break the law."
After 5 1/2 years in prison, Price was released in the summer of 1990. On Nov. 2, 1991, according to court records, he beat Eddie Hanson to death with a cordless phone and other objects, then set Hanson's north side home on fire, later confessing to the crimes.
At Price's sentencing in March 1992, one of Hanson's sisters, Mary Galway, told Price: "Get Christ in your life, so when you do come out, that you can lean on Christ and you will not have any problems."
This time, Price spoke to the judge, Victor Manian, saying:
"The thing that happened shouldn't have happened, but it wasn't like I'm going there just to kill somebody. We got in an argument, the man threw a phone (at me), we got to fighting. It happened. I'm more sorrier than anybody."
Price is serving a 35-year prison sentence for the Hanson homicide and related crimes.
He is eligible for parole in 2017, according to the state Department of Corrections.
Nov. 3, 1984: Ione Cychosz is found dead by a neighbor in a backyard area near her Milwaukee home.
Dec. 2, 1984: A woman told police that while she was walking in the 1500 block of W. Hadley St. about 4:30 a.m. she was approached by Moses Price Jr., who pointed a knife at her and threatened to kill her. Price took $50 from her and raped her on the playground outside of Hopkins Street School. Another woman told police that about 9 a.m. Price robbed her with a knife at N. Teutonia and W. North avenues and threatened to kill her.
January 1985: Price is sentenced after pleading guilty to the two armed robbery charges in exchange for the rape charge being dropped.
The same month, Robert Lee Stinson is found guilty by a jury in Cychosz's murder. He is later sentenced to life in prison.
March 24, 1985: In a letter to the judge who sentenced him for the December 1984 crimes, Price said he thinks he committed the crimes because "all I was trying to do was have some kind of contact with people and the liquor is what trigger me to have it in such a way, not that I was willfully trying to hurt people or break the law."
Summer 1990: Price is released from prison.
Nov. 2, 1991: Eddie Hanson, 50, is found dead by a firefighter who was battling a blaze at Hanson's home, on N. 27th St.
March 9, 1992: Having previously pleaded guilty to first-degree reckless homicide, arson and theft, Price is sentenced to 35 years in prison.
January 2009: Stinson is released from prison after the Wisconsin Innocence Project presents DNA and bite-mark evidence excluding him as a suspect in Cychosz's murder.
July: District attorney's office announces it won't put Stinson on trial again in Cychosz's murder.
May: Innocence Project announces that new DNA evidence from Cychosz's clothing matches Price and that Price has signed a confession admitting that he killed her.