Ernie Sykes is behind bars for murdering his ex-girlfriend, Angel Syddall, and attempting to murder a 26-year-old man, D. Ferrell, at their home in Alton, Illinois.
In the early hours of Nov. 21, 2018, officers were dispatched to a home in the 2300 block of Edwards Street following a 911 call about a shooting. When they arrived on the scene, they discovered Ferrell suffering from three gunshot wounds.
The victim told responding officers that Syddall, 31, was also shot, and she was still inside the home.
Syddall had been shot seven times and did not survive her injuries. For 13 years, she worked as a crew trainer at McDonald’s in Wood River, which is where friends and family gathered for a vigil.
“Everybody here had probably seen her or worked with her in the last couple of days, and we never knew that that was going to be the last time that we were going to see her,” said one of Syddall’s longtime friends.
One of her co-workers said, “She was always someone that brought a positive attitude to the workplace. She would always make it a better day for everyone.”
Ferrell was shot in the leg, chest, and abdomen, but he survived.
With help from the community, police officials were able to arrest Sykes at around 10 p.m. that same night.
The then-54-year-old convicted felon was booked into the Madison County Jail, where he was held without bond.
He was charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, and aggravated battery with a firearm.
Alton Police Chief Jason Simmons said, “I am proud of our community tonight. I will continue to pray for the family and friends of Angel Syddall and hope this arrest can bring them some peace in the midst of their grief.”
During the trial, the victim’s mother testified that four days before the shooting, Sykes told her that she was going to need to buy a new “black dress.”
He also said he was going to “send her home to glory,” according to prosecutors.
The court also heard how Sykes and Syddall had a violent relationship. According to a witness, he would constantly “beat on her.”
She never called the police because she didn’t want to make the situation worse, said the victim’s mother.
Sykes also took the stand.
He stated that although he didn’t lie, he admitted that he gave police officials different accounts of what happened the day Syddall was killed.
“I might have told the police anything,” Sykes said. “I have a disorder of paranoia depression.”
Sykes initially told authorities that he was never at his ex-girlfriend’s house when she and Ferrell were shot. He later changed his story and said that when he and Ferrell got into a fight in the hallway, the gun went off.
That’s when he said Ferrell was struck multiple times, and because Syddall was being used as a “human shield,” Sykes said she was also shot.
Investigators stated that blood as well as shell casings and projectiles were found in Syddall and Ferrell’s separate bedrooms, not in the hallway.
Sykes then told another story.
He said he arrived at Syddall’s house with another man, who he said was the one who shot and killed his ex-girlfriend.
Prosecutors stated that Syddall and Ferrell were asleep when Sykes entered the home at 3 a.m. and opened fire. They believe it was out of jealousy because Sykes thought Ferrell and Syddall were having a love affair.
In March 2020, a Madison County jury found Sykes guilty of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder after deliberating for less than an hour.
In June of that same year, Sykes was sentenced to 125 years in prison.
Sykes stated that he was innocent and a victim of racism. The judge told him that, despite his pleas of innocence, he had already been convicted of the crimes.
That’s when Sykes reportedly began disrupting the courtroom and was subsequently kicked out.
Lead Assistant State’s Attorney Crystal Uhe said, “We are pleased with the sentence. The way he acted in court shows he has no remorse.”