Carjacker kidnapped victim in Uptown but made a critical error with CashApp, prosecutors say

Travis Williams | CCSO

Prosecutors say an 18-year-old man carjacked and kidnapped a driver in Uptown earlier this year, but cops tracked him down because he transferred funds from the victim’s CashApp account to his own — which has his real name, address, and birthdate on it.

Travis Williams was already in custody for a similar hijacking and kidnapping in the suburbs when police arrested him for the Uptown crime on Tuesday.

Around 7:15 p.m. on April 21, a 33-year-old man was in his car on the 1200 block of West Winnemac when Williams allegedly slid into his passenger seat and implied he had a gun under his jacket.

Williams went through the car’s glove box and center console, took $10 from the victim, and then ordered him to drive. As they rode down the Kennedy Expressway, Williams demanded the man’s phone PIN and passwords to his Citibank and CashApp accounts, Assistant State’s Attorney John Gnilka said Wednesday.

At one point, Williams transferred $2,500 from the victim’s CashApp to an account with the user name “Travis Williams,” which detectives later determined was established by a person with Williams’s full legal name, home address, and birthday, Gnilka said.

Williams eventually ordered the victim to drive into a parking lot off of the expressway where they changed seats, and Williams started driving before he took more property from the man and ordered him out of the car, according to Gnilka. The entire episode lasted 45 minutes.

The victim reported the crime to police and then did some detective work of his own. Knowing that some of his money went to an account named “Travis Williams,” he searched Facebook for people with that name in Chicago. He found the man who kidnapped and carjacked him — Travis Jerome Williams — and gave the information to police who were subpoenaing records from CashApp to support the case, Gnilka said.

Williams was charged Wednesday with vehicular hijacking, kidnapping by force or threat, and unlawful vehicular invasion.

He has been in Cook County jail since May 2 on similar charges from the suburbs.

In that case, Williams allegedly slid into the passenger seat of a woman’s car with a jacket wrapped around his hand, implying he had a gun. He made the woman drive around to various ATMs in the suburbs and Chicago, but she could not make withdrawals due to insufficient funds, Gnilka said.

Williams eventually let the woman go after she repeatedly begged to be taken home, Gnilka said. But Williams kept her car, which he crashed into another vehicle while driving against traffic in North Riverside, according to Gnilka.

Occupants of the other car were hospitalized for their injuries but recovered. Williams was arrested after he ran from the scene, Gnilka said.

Gnilka said Williams was arrested for aggravated robbery five times as a juvenile and had another juvenile arrest for possessing a stolen motor vehicle.

Willams’ public defender said he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and pointed out that his only conviction was at the age of 14. All of the other cases were either dismissed or are still pending, she said.

At the end of Wednesday’s hearing, Judge Susana Ortiz ordered Williams held without bail for the Uptown allegations. He remains held in lieu of $1.1 million bail for the suburban case.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is