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Prosecutor: Dad Admitted Stabbings

The father of an 8-year-old girl who was slain along with her best friend admitted to authorities that he was the killer, saying he was angry at the girl for breaking curfew, authorities said Wednesday.

A judge denied bond Wednesday for Jerry Hobbs after prosecutors described a videotaped interview in court in which he allegedly told investigators he stabbed the girls to death.

Hobbs' 8-year-old daughter, Laura Hobbs, and her friend Krystal Tobias, 9, were found dead Monday in a park in Zion, the day after they vanished.

The father, who had been released from a Texas prison last month, told investigators he was angry at Laura when he tracked her and Krystal in the wooded park, punched her and then killed both girls, prosecutors said.

Hobbs, shackled and in a dark blue jail uniform, stared at the floor as Assistant Lake County State's Attorney Jeff Pavletic described the case against him.

Hobbs led police to their bodies Monday morning, claiming then that he found them while searching for his missing daughter. In videotaped interviews, however, prosecutors say Hobbs told them he killed the girls, stabbing his daughter repeatedly in the neck and eyes, after Laura refused to leave the park when he ordered her to go home.

Pavletic said Hobbs told investigators he believed Laura had stolen money from her mother. She had been grounded, but her mother let her go out and play on Sunday, Mother's Day. When she didn't return at 7 p.m. as she had been told, he went looking for her, he said.

He also told authorities the other girl, Krystal, had pulled out a paring knife to try to defend her friend and he had taken it from her and stabbed both of them.

On CBS News' The Early Show, State's attorney Michael Waller said that there was no indication of Hobbs planning the murders.

"I think we're dealing with an individual who acts spontaneously, has difficulty controlling his anger or, in this case, his rage," Waller said.

Waller told NBC's "Today" that the father had showed a lack of emotion and that "things didn't add up" in his interviews with police.

The prosecutor said Hobbs went looking for his daughter and that Krystal "just happened to be there," before the father killed both girls.

Waller also told Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler that the bodies were found in an area that was pretty remote.

"If you were doing a search, you wouldn't probably go there in the first instance or as early as he did. And it raised some suspicions," he said.


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

Just last month, he was released from a Texas prison after serving time for an assault in 2001. He had argued with Laura's mother, Sheila Hollabaugh, then grabbed a chain saw and chased neighbors until someone hit him in the back with a shovel, according to Rick Mahler, assistant district attorney for Wichita County, Texas. No one was injured.

Hobbs was sentenced to 10 years probation but failed to appear for required meetings, so his probation was revoked in 2003.

Arthur Hollabaugh said Hobbs had been living with the Hollabaughs after his release.

"Jerry just got out of prison for aggravated assault, and I think they're holding that against him," Hollabaugh said before police announced the charges. "I don't think he did it."

Zion, along Lake Michigan, was founded in 1901 by a religious faith healer. It has about 22,000 residents but retains a quiet — at times, rural — feel despite being on the edge of both the Chicago and Milwaukee metropolitan areas.

At the entrance to Beulah Park, where the bodies were found, more than a dozen children stood quietly around a growing memorial of flowers, balloons and stuffed animals.

One sign read: "May your angels rest peacefully in heaven."

Parents upset about the police response packed a school gymnasium Tuesday night to hear public officials discuss the slayings, the charges and safety in the community.

Segura joined the group but said his mother was distraught over the loss of her daughter.

"She doesn't want to live anymore," he said. "She was the family's little girl and now she's dead."

At a prayer vigil later Tuesday evening, Krystal's family and about 200 community members gathered outside her home and somberly walked the block and a half to Laura's house. The slain girls' families hugged each other and began crying.

Through tears, Laura's mother, Sheila Hollabaugh, read a poem written by her daughter's classmate. The "little angels," it said, "died too young."

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