CHICAGO — A member of the infamous satanic gang known as the Ripper Crew that kidnapped, raped, mutilated and murdered as many as 20 women in the Chicago area in the early 1980s was released from an Illinois prison on Friday.
Thomas Kokoraleis, 58, spent 35 years in prison for his part in the slaying of 21-year-old Lorry Ann Borowski, a real estate office receptionist who was snatched by the sadistic gang outside her workplace in 1982 before being raped, mutilated and murdered.
An alert from Illinois’ victim notification system announced his discharge Friday from the Illinois Department of Corrections. He was being held at the Illinois River Correctional Center in Canton, about 30 miles west of Peoria.
Kokoraleis will have to register with police as a convict wherever he lives within three days. His information will be also publicly disclosed on Illinois’ sex offender registry.
Attorney Gloria Allred and the family of a woman murdered by Kokoraleis planned to hold a news conference later Friday to speak out about his release.
Kokoraleis’ discharge, initially scheduled two years ago, was delayed because he hadn’t found a place to live while on parole — a condition of his release.
Prosecutors said that Kokoraleis and his three accomplices stalked the women they picked for their macabre ritual killings in Chicago and nearby suburbs — torturing their victims and cutting off their breasts before ultimately murdering them using knives and axes.
Kokoraleis was initially sentenced to life in prison but the original conviction was overturned due to legal error. He later pleaded guilty to Borowski’s murder and was re-sentenced to 70 years in prison. Guidelines in Illinois at the time of his sentencing rewarded inmates, even violent felons, for good behavior and that led to his prison time being cut in half.
Authorities said that Kokoraleis, along with his older brother Andrew, Edward Spreitzer, and the ringleader of the group Robin Gecht targeted women in the Chicagoland area between May 1981 and September 1982.
The men abducted, sexually abused and mutilated the women and used parts of their bodies in satanic rituals, prosecutors alleged during the trial. Several of the victims were found with one or both breasts severed, prosecutors said.
The four were charged with abducting Borowski outside the real estate office in west suburban Elmhurst where she worked. Her remains were found five months later in a cemetery just a few miles away from where she had been abducted.
Prosecutors say Kokoraleis told investigators that the attic of Gecht’s home was the scene of gruesome rituals that included cannibalism. The men were all employed by Gecht, who was an electrical contractor and handyman.
During Kokoraleis’ trial, jurors heard an audio recording of him confessing to his role in the Borowski slaying and that of another victim, Linda Sutton. Prosecutors later dropped the charges against Kokoraleis for Sutton’s murder as part of the plea deal that led to the 70-year sentence.
He later said that he made up certain aspects of his confession — which he said was coerced by police — and only admitted to being present during the attacks.
Andrew Kokoraleis was executed by lethal injection in 1999, the last Death Row inmate in Illinois to be executed before the state’s death penalty was abolished in 2011.
Spreitzer was originally sentenced to death, before former Gov. George Ryan in 2003 commuted his — and other Illinois Death Row inmate sentences — to life terms. Ryan was governor at the time of the elder Kokoraleis’s execution and later said he regretted not stopping it.
Gecht was the only one in the gang who did not confess to the killings. He was convicted for the rape and mutilation of a teenage prostitute who survived the assault and provided investigators with descriptions that helped lead investigators to the men.
He was sentenced to 120 years in prison and is eligible for parole in 2042.
Madhani reports from Chicago; Stanglin from Mclean, Virginia.
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