- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2005

ZION, Ill. (AP) — Police yesterday arrested an ex-convict on murder charges in the Mother’s Day stabbings of his 8-year-old daughter and her best friend, who were killed after they went biking in a park.

Jerry Hobbs, who was recently released from prison, had led police to the bodies just off a wooded bike path early Monday, saying he spotted them while searching for his daughter, the girl’s grandfather, Arthur Hollabaugh, said.

Hobbs, 34, was questioned through the day about the deaths of Laura Hobbs, 8, and Krystal Tobias, 9.

Both girls had been beaten and stabbed repeatedly in the woods and left to die, Lake County Coroner Richard Keller said. The girls were found side by side and did not appear to have been sexually assaulted. They appeared to have been killed Sunday evening near the area where they were found, he said.

Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Waller said in announcing the charges yesterday that he could not discuss motives for the killings, but prosecutors said more details would come out when Hobbs appears in bond court this morning.

Authorities said additional charges could be filed later.

“This horrific crime has terrorized and traumatized the Zion community, and I think it’s safe to say people of good will everywhere,” Mr. Waller said.

Outside the home of the Tobiases, Krystal’s 15-year-old brother, Albert, said he had never met Hobbs but knew Hobbs had been searching with his own family the night Krystal was killed.

“We never thought a father would do that to a daughter,” Albert said. “They were just babies. They didn’t do anything wrong.”

In front of the Hollabaughs’ house, “No Trespassing” and “Keep Out” signs printed in black and orange had been posted on a fence.

Hobbs has an extensive criminal history dating to 1990 in Texas, including arrests for assault and resisting arrest, according to state Department of Public Safety records.

Before his release April 12, he had served two years in a Texas prison for chasing neighbors with a chain saw during a 2001 argument with Laura’s mother, Sheila Hollabaugh, said Rick Mahler, assistant district attorney for Wichita County, Texas.

No one was hurt in that incident, Mr. Mahler said. Hobbs was sentenced to 10 years of probation but failed to appear for required meetings, so his probation was revoked in 2003 and he was imprisoned.

Hobbs had been living with the Hollabaughs after his release, said Mr. Hollabaugh, who before the arrest had expressed concern that authorities might be trying to railroad Hobbs in their search for the girls’ killer.

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