Arrest made in ’98 gang killing
Bystander was slain in hit on rival group

February 27, 2007

Black P-Stone member Chevon Godfrey was angry — and armed with a 9 mm handgun — but he couldn’t shoot straight on a September morning in 1998, Chicago police say.

He was gunning for rival gang members because their car had struck and injured three residents playing in an open fire hydrant, police said. Godfrey also was seeking revenge for an earlier drive-by shooting by his rivals, authorities said.

But as often happens with gangs and guns in the city, Godfrey missed his intended target. He killed Alma Valentine, a 64-year-old caretaker for the Chicago Association for Retarded Citizens, as she walked to her car at 66th Street and Maplewood Avenue after work at 12:45 a.m. on Sept. 16, 1998, said Detective Robert Lenihan of the cold case squad.

Godfrey, who didn’t realize until the next day that he had shot the wrong person, got rid of the gun and fled the Southwest Side, Lenihan said. When police arrested him last week for Valentine’s murder, he was living in Las Vegas and working as a $10-an-hour inventory clerk.

“We spoke to her daughters,” Lenihan said. “They were thrilled.”

Valentine was working a night shift for another employee when she was murdered. In her job, she helped six mentally disabled men cook, grocery shop and balance their budgets. A Mississippi native, she also volunteered at an elementary school and was involved in her block club.

Lenihan and Detective Michael Cummings reopened the case and interviewed witnesses who identified Godfrey as the shooter. After his arrest, Godfrey gave a videotaped confession admitting he shot Valentine in the back, police said. “He said there was no intent to shoot the 64-year-old woman,” Lenihan said.

To catch Godfrey, the detectives consulted a national database and learned Godfrey had lived in Tulsa, Okla., using his father’s last name, Villanueva. The FBI then helped police track Godfrey to Las Vegas, where he was living under an assumed name.

“He had a history of petty arrests but no extensive violent crime history,” Lenihan said.

Judge Thomas Hennelly on Saturday ordered Godfrey held without bail.