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A man disguised himself as a murdered woman to cash her checks

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A bizarre cold case has been solved after investigators filed first-degree murder charges against a man who they say disguised himself as the woman he's accused of murdering, according to our affiliate WPEC.

In 1994, police found the body of 71-year-old Illa Venard in her apartment in Lisle, a town about 30 miles west of Chicago.

The case went cold for 24 years until investigators reopened it this year.

Investigators now believe 43-year-old Thomas Spear broke into her apartment through a sliding door. When Venard confronted him, police said Spear grabbed the woman by the neck and forcibly pushed her to the ground. Spear then ransacked the place and stole her checkbook, ID and other items, according to prosecutors.

The DuPage County State Attorney said Spear disguised himself as an elderly woman, forged her signature and cashed four checks from her account.

Police initially arrested Spear on four counts of forgery a month ago in Peoria. In addition to the murder charge, he faces four counts of issuing or delivering a forged document. He's being held on a $3 million bond.

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