Judith Weeks (Courtesy The Gazette)

Judith Weeks (Courtesy The Gazette)

Judith Kay Weeks

Homicide — SOLVED

Suspect Enters Alford Plea

Judith Kay Weeks
44 YOA
1319 Second Ave. SE
Cedar Rapids, IA
Linn County
April 4, 1999

Case Summary compiled by Jody Ewing



Deshaun PhillipsCourtesy photo AP/Iowa Dept. of Corrections
Deshaun Lamonte Phillips, 34, was arrested in Shakopee, Minn., on Friday, August 16, 2013, and charged with First-Degree Murder in Judith Weeks’ death. On June 23, 2016, he entered an Alford plea to voluntary manslaughter and faces up to 10 years in prison.

June 23, 2016: DeShaun Phillips, 37, of Shakopee, Minn., orignally charged with first-degree murder in Judith Weeks’ April 1999 homicide, entered an Alford plea to voluntary manslaughter on Thursday, June 23, 2016. In making an Alford plea, a defendant doesn’t admit guilt but admits the prosecution could likely prove the charges based on evidence.

Phillips faces up to 10 years in prison and will be required to pay victim’s restitution. He has been in an Iowa jail since 2013 after fighting extradition from Minnesota, where he was being held on a domestic abuse charge.

Phillips admitted during the hearing that he intentionally caused the death of Weeks, 44, by striking her with a drain pipe and/or strangling her on April 4, 1999 outside of 1319 Second Ave. SE.

There is no mandatory minimum sentence on the manslaughter charge, so Phillips could be immediately eligible for parole, depending on any credit he would receive from prison time served in Minnesota, Assistant Linn County Attorney Monica Slaughter said. His sentencing is set for Aug. 23.

More Information at The Gazette

Previous Update

Cedar Rapids police announced Monday, August 19, 2013, an arrest in Judith Weeks’ 14-year-old unsolved murder. Deshaun Lamonte Phillips, 34, was arrested in Shakopee, Minn., on Friday, August 16, 2013, and charged with First-Degree Murder in Weeks’ death. Learn more about the arrest at The Gazette.

On Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, CBS2/FOX28 reported that Phillips’ hearing was scheduled for Monday.

Judith Kay Weeks, a 44-year-old mother of two, was last seen alive on Sunday morning, April 4, 1999. The following day, her body was discovered in the back yard of a vacant apartment house at 1319 Second Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

judith-weeks-crime-sceneCourtesy photo CBS News
Officials remove Judith Weeks’ body from the back yard of a vacant apartment house at 1319 Second Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The only apparent injury was a wound to Weeks’ forehead caused by a bladed object, according to a police affidavit filed with an application to search her apartment at 1002 Fifth St. SE.

In a Cedar Rapids Gazette article dated April 7, 199, Police Sgt. Mark Andries said no suspects had been identified. Andries also said detectives hadn’t decided whether Weeks was killed where her body was found, and the actual time of death remained undetermined; processing the crime scene had been difficult due to heavy rain.

In a Gazette article dated April 9, Andries confirmed police were calling the case a homicide.

Weeks was found still clothed in the green shirt, flower-patterned vest and tan jacket she’d been seen wearing the previous day. Her jeans lay nearby.

WEEKSCourtesy photo The Gazette
Judith Weeks, 44, is shown holding her pet iguana.

Weeks had been involved in a troubling relationship with Darryl Harbison, 40, who’d been convicted of assaulting Judith on two occasions in 1997. Harbison was in the Linn County jail when Weeks was killed; he’d been jailed after failing to complete a batterer’s education program, a stipulation attached to one of the assaults on Weeks.

In the months before her death, Weeks had shared a 1002 Fifth Street SE apartment with Clarence Johnson, 68, who told investigators he was more of a “father figure” to the victim. He said they pooled their funds to make ends meet; Johnson lived on Social Security, and Weeks had until recently been employed at Denny’s Green Square Pub.

Johnson described Weeks as a “lovable girl,” and said she’d called a cab around 3 a.m. Saturday to take her to a location approximately three blocks from where her body would later be found. He told police she hadn’t provided the name of the person she planned to visit, but that he’d seen Weeks again around noon Saturday when he gave her a check for his part of the rent.

Linn County
Linn County in Iowa
Cedar Rapids in Linn County Cedar Rapids in Linn County

Four days after Weeks’ murder, Cedar Rapids police offered a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case, but the reward went unclaimed.

Eight months after Weeks’ death, the Cedar Rapids Police Department unveiled new “privacy screens” to be used at crime scenes. According to a Cedar Rapids Gazette article published December 22, 1999, the eight screens — valued at about $100 apiece — were donated to the department by Cedar Rapids Crime Stoppers and the Survivors of Homicide Victims support group.

The privacy screens were designed to not only help investigators protect evidence, but preserve the dignity of murder victims.

Mary Novak, director of the support group, told the Gazette the last memory family members have of a murdered loved one is the sight of a tarp draped over the body.

“That’s a way of preserving the dignity for the victim,” Novak said.

“Quite a Big Hole”

On the one-year anniversary of Judith’s death, Gazette staff writer Steve Gravelle sat down to visit with Judith’s mother, Katherine Weeks, in Katherine’s southwest Cedar Rapids home. Gravelle noted in the April 5, 2000 article a refrigerator decorated with photos of Katherine Weeks’ grandchildren and their crayon artwork. A peace lily from Judith’s funeral remained in a front window off the living room.

“She had a lot of problems (with drinking), and she suffered from depression,” Katherine Weeks told Gravelle. “That had a lot to do with her other problems.”

Weeks said periods of time would go by where she didn’t see her daughter, and it didn’t help in easing the family’s pain after Judith’s death.

“It’s quite a big hole, but we go about and do everyday things we always did,” said Weeks, whose husband Everett passed away in 1992. Weeks said working with her plants and taking walks around her Czech Village neighborhood helped her cope with her grief, as did enjoying time spent with her twin granddaughters. She felt confident the killer was someone her daughter didn’t know.

Gravelle also checked in with Cedar Rapids police, and Police Capt. Glen Fox told him no new leads had developed in recent months. Police had, however, already discarded some potential suspects in Judith Weeks’ murder, and lab work was being done on evidence collected from the area around her body.

Update: Arrest Made in Case

On Monday, August 19, 2013, Cedar Rapids Police announced an arrest in Judith Weeks’ 14-year-old unsolved slaying.

According to the Cedar Rapids Police Department, police in Shakopee, Minn., arrested 34-year-old Deshaun Lamonte Phillips on Friday, August 16, 2013, in connection with Weeks’ 1999 murder.

He faces First-Degree Murder charges in Weeks’ death.

“This case was thoroughly investigated at the time of the offense but there was insufficient evidence to file charges,” said Sgt. Denni Randall of the Cedar Rapids Police Department. “Recently, investigators were specifically assigned to this case and developed new information regarding Phillips that they pursued, which resulted in the filing of this charge.”

KCRG-TV9’s Dave Franzman spoke on Monday with Weeks’ family members and reported from a crime scene he said no longer exists in the same form; the once-vacant apartment building is now a parking lot.

The victim’s daughter, Kristin Twilla, told KCRG she never forgot what happened; she’d kept in touch with police over the years and kept urging them to keep the case alive.

Twilla told KCRG that police notified the family of a break in case late last week. Twilla said the change was a DNA match between Phillips and some evidence found on her mother’s purse, which was found about a block from the crime scene.

Franzman said authorities wouldn’t confirm DNA as the new information that resulted in a murder charge.

Twilla said regardless of exact details, the news of an arrest was a very welcome surprise.

“It was shock, and sad because we’ve waited so long, but it will never replace her even though the man is charged and everything,” Twilla told KCRG. “I’m relieved that he can no longer hurt another person or walk around scott free.”

Twilla said the family did not know the suspect and doubts her mother knew him either, due to the age difference between the two at the time.

Authorities said how quickly Phillips is brought back [to Iowa] to face the murder charges depends on whether or not he fights extradition. Phillips is currently in a Minnesota jail on a domestic assault charge.

About Judith Weeks

Judith Kay Weeks was born in Cedar Rapids on January 9, 1955, the daughter of Everett and Katherine (Fabritz) Weeks.

Private family services were held on Thursday, April 8, 1999, at Cedar Memorial Chapel of Memories in Cedar Rapids, with inurnment following in Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery. Cedar Memorial Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

Survivors included a son, Ryan of Iowa City; a daughter, Kristin Coker of Kalona; her mother, Katherine Weeks of Cedar Rapids; a brother, Thomas Weeks and wife Cheryl of Madison, Wis.; three sisters, Barbara Weeks and husband Brian Walter of Madison, Wis., Paula Musel and husband Steve of Hastings, Minn., and Kathleen Bessey and husband Michael of Cedar Rapids; and her grandmother, Elizabeth Fabritz of Ottumwa.

She was preceded in death by her father, Everett Weeks, in 1992.



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7 Responses to Judith Weeks

  1. jenny says:

    I want the police to step up and try and solve some of these older cases there is two kids out here in this tuff life without there mom you guys want to talk about all the negative things that happened to her or that she did and its not right clean your own closet before you go trying to clean someone elses out thank you and plese soomeone say something that will turn this into a solved case

    • kristin twilla says:

      Thank you I am her DAUGHTER! We need the help oh the PUBLIC someone knows something and we want our mother to rest in peace and the person or persons that killed her be put to justice!!!!

    • Jody Ewing says:

      Jenny, the case summary written by a former ICC volunteer has been removed and I’ve included a new summary for Judith Weeks. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment, and know we share your concern for seeing this case solved and her murderer brought to justice. I welcome anyone’s input insofar as favorite stories involving Judith, her passions and dreams, and anything else that will let our readers know more about her as a person. We would also welcome any photos (proper attribution will be given), which may be sent to jody at iowacoldcases.org. Thank you again for writing!

  2. Lori says:

    Kristan I hope your mother’s killer is caught soon and that will bring you some sense of closure. God speed and Justice for Judith.

  3. liberty says:

    In June of 1999 he was arrested for various Cedar Rapids burglaries. he was let out on bail. In July he was arrested for domestic battry. Then December 1999 he pled out to the burglaries. Why did it take so long to compare DNA from the crime scene to DNA taken from a convicted felon?

  4. robert holt says:

    From el early 90s

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