‘He was liked by everybody.’ Family members respond to Christmas Day triple homicide

Local News

CULLOM, Ill. — Family members of Norman Walker, who was one of three people shot and killed Christmas Day, are speaking out about the great man they say he was.

“He would help anyone,” said Walker’s 31-year-old daughter Valerie Brewster.

Norman Walker with his daughter and grandson on Fourth of July

Brewster said Norman was born in Hazelton, Pennsylvania.  They moved to Cullom in the late ’90s.  

After working for at the Braidwood Nuclear Power Plant, Norman worked with his friends Jeff and Tate doing various construction and handyman jobs in the area.

The Will County nuclear plant serves Chicago and northeastern Illinois with electricity, Valerie says Norman stopped working there in 2014.

Valerie said when she heard that her father had allegedly been killed by 53-year-old Clifford Brewer, who she knew to be one of her father’s best friends, she was shocked.

“On Facebook there were a lot of pictures of all of them hanging out, having cookouts, barbecues.  So when I found that Cliff had done this, I don’t understand because they were friends,” Brewster said.

Valerie says she has been in contact with Shirley Brewer’s other two children, Bonnie and Zach.  She says they are looking for answers just the same way as she is.

Shirley and Christian Brewer

“I don’t know why, and I’m hoping we can get the answers as the trial goes. They lost their mother, they lost their brother,” Brewster said.

“Christmas is never going to be the same for us,” Brewster said.

She continued on saying she will always be there for Bonnie and Zach.

Brewster has a twin sister, Alicia Brockett, who lives out of state. Alicia has one son.

“He was a very good grandfather,” Brewster said.

Norman with his grandson

Valerie said the Livingston County Coroner, Danny Watson, had heard from multiple sources that they were separated. 

WMBD has reached out to Coroner Watson but was told he is not accepting calls until Monday 12/30, and will have to wait to get that confirmed until then.

WMBD spoke with Tina and her sister Shelly on Friday outside of Norman and Tina’s home in Cullom. 

Shelly said Tina had been living with her over an hour away in Farmer City and was not with Norman, Shirley, Clifford, and Christian on Christmas Eve and Christmas. 

Tina said she was best friends with Norman, Shirley, and Clifford.

Shirley Brewer

She says while she is devastated about what happened, she has no hatred towards Clifford if he did kill her husband. 

Tina says she wants answers and would like to visit Clifford in jail to find out if he did it, and why he did it.

Tina said Norman was a great guy who would help out anyone in the town.

Norman Walker | Sent by Valerie Brewster

Brewster said she was closest with Christian, Clifford and Shirley’s 27-year-old son who was also found dead Christmas morning after being shot in the head.

Christian Brewer

Valerie says she is aware of the many rumors circulating around town and especially on social media. She says for her and her family’s sake, she wants them all to stop.

“I would wish people would stop coming up with their own.  I’ve heard ‘It was a love affair gone wrong, or it was a murder-suicide,'” Brewster said.

“I want people to just stop.  They don’t know the facts.  They don’t know what really happened.  I need all the rumors and the gossip to stop, because I live in that town.  I live four houses down from my father’s house, and I can’t keep hearing all the stupidity.  And I know the Brewers, Zack and Bonnie feel the same way,” Brewster continued.

Valerie works at Fox Center in Dwight and is currently on leave because of losing her father.

For all of Norman’s friends at the nuclear plant, Valerie wanted to say Norman’s nickname was “Ab-Normal” when he worked for Exelon.

“I know all his friends who worked there would like that,” she said.

Now looking towards the future, Brewster says she and her sister will be having an event to honor their father.

“My sister and I will be holding a celebration life sometime in the spring or summer.  My sister lives in a different state and my father would have wanted more of a big gathering, barbecue type event, with friends and music,” Brewster said.

Bonnie Lacroix, Shirley’s daughter, and Christian’s sister, has created a GoFundMe to help pay for funeral costs.

As of 12/28/19, the GoFundMe has nearly $7,000 raised of its $10,000 goal.

“On December 25th, Shirley and Christian Brewer tragically passed away in Cullom, IL. This didn’t just affect my family but the community as well. We have overpowering support and love from friends & family,” Lacroix wrote in the description of the GoFundMe.

“Unfortunately, this not only leaves our family devastated and heartbroken but financially strained as we have to prepare funerals for two people. We will also have to secure and close all of my mothers’ assets house, cars, and medical bills,” Lacroix continued.

“This is a long term battle, no amount of money will ever fill the void left in my family. My hope is we can give them the memorial they deserve. I appreciate any donation and the continued prayers/thoughts for our family. No words can express my deepest appreciation,” Lacroix’s statement finished.

Just the day before she was found in her Cullom home, Shirley posted the following photo on Facebook.

Shirley Brewer Facebook post

Cullom is a town of nearly 600 people, in Livingston County which averages one homicide a year.

Clifford Brewer, the man accused of a Christmas Day triple homicide in Cullom, made his first court appearance in Livingston County Friday.

Deputies from the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office responded to reports of a homicide Christmas morning just after 2:00 a.m. at the 400 block of East Jackson St.

When they arrived, they found 48-year-old Shirley Brewer, 51-year-old Norman Walker, and 27-year-old Christian Brewer dead.

Livingston County State’s Attorney Randy Yedinak said the Brewer’s motive still remains unclear.

However, the suspect told police he and Shirley got into a fight on Christmas Eve and she had texted Walker to come over. He told police Walker and Shirley went upstairs to a bedroom “and drank heavily” while listening to loud music.

Clifford’s testimony claimed he stayed downstairs, took sleeping medications, and put his headphones in to listen to music.

The State’s Attorney mentioned Shirley, Norman, and Clifford were all friends, and it was not uncommon for Norman to hang out at the Brewers’ home.

When police arrived at the house, Walker and Shirley were found together with gunshot wounds to their heads, in a room adjacent to Christian’s.

Additionally, Christian was found in his room with one apparent gunshot wound to the head.

Yedinak said it was obvious the gunshot wounds were not self-inflicted. He said there are no results on gunshot residue, but tests have been done.

“We certainly have our theories, but nothing we can talk about at this point,” he said.

In Clifford’s testimony, he told law enforcement while he was home, no one came entered or exited the home.

When asked by WMBD if there is a motive, Yedinak said there’s no official motivation to the killings yet.

“At this point it’s unclear. We’re still investigating that. We’re very blessed to have law enforcement we have in this county. Sheriffs department, state police are still conducting interviews and putting that together,” Yedinak said.

Ilinois State Police also found adult clothing in the washing machine when they arrived. When asked if there was blood found on the clothing, Yedinak said Illinois State Police is still running tests on the clothing.

Attorneys said Brewer worked for the Department of Corrections in Pontiac for nearly 20 years. He made over $80,000 in 2019 according to the Illinois State Comptrollers’ website.

Scott Ripley, a public defender in Livingston County, says Brewer also deals with depression and anxiety and takes medication for it.

Yedinak said after the court hearing that if Brewer medically needs his medication, the jail will ensure he gets it.

According to Yedinak, Brewer first told law enforcement that he called 9-1-1 and said he saw a neighbor trying to sell a firearm.

Later in an interview, he indicated he never owned a firearm.

Then he reportedly changed his story again, admitting that he bought the firearm for his wife. Yedinak says Brewer did have a FOID card.

Yedinak reported to Judge Jennifer Bauknecht that Brewer told agents that he kept the handgun in his bedroom closet in a case. Yedinak continues on that the case, along with a spare magazine, was located open on Brewers’ bed.

Yedinak said Livingston County averages one murder a year, and that Brewer does not have any record of criminal history.

Law enforcement has been interviewing neighbors and family members.

Brewer’s bond is set at $5 million. A public defender has been appointed for him.

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 23.

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