Andrew Kokoraleis Executed Ripper Crew Member

Andrew Kokoraleis was part of a serial killer gang known as the Ripper Crew who was executed by the State of Illinois

According to court documents Andrew Kokoraleis along with Robin Gecht, Edward Spreitzer and Thomas Kokoraleis were known as the Ripper Crew who were believed to be responsible for seventeen sexual assaults and murders in a two year period

Andrew Kokoraleis would be convicted of the murder of Lorraine Borowski, 21, of Elmhurst Illinois and sentenced to death

Andrew Kokoraleis would be executed by lethal injection on March 17 1999

Andrew Kokoraleis Photos

Andrew Kokoraleis execution

Andrew Kokoraleis Case

After nearly four decades in prison, one member of a sadistic four-man crew whose sexually motivated crimes were so depraved that authorities compared their acts to a modern-day Jack the Ripper or Charles Manson is expected to be free on Friday.

Based on their own recorded statements and signature style of mutilating their victims, the group known as the Ripper Crew is thought to be responsible for the slayings of as many as 17 women and for an unrelated fatal shooting of a man in the early 1980s. Authorities said they stalked streets in Chicago and the west and northwest suburbs in a reddish-orange van in search of lone women to abduct.

At 58, Thomas Kokoraleis is likely the only member of the group who will get a chance to rejoin society. He originally received a life sentence for his role in the murder of a 21-year-old Elmhurst woman who was abducted outside the suburban office where she worked in May 1982, but a series of legal maneuvers and now-defunct sentencing rules allowed for him to go free after serving just half his prison term.

His younger brother Andrew was executed by lethal injection 20 years ago this month at age 35, before Illinois abolished the death penalty. The other two defendants have exhausted their appeals and probably will die in prison, though one will be eligible for parole if he lives to be 89

It’s unclear where Thomas Kokoraleis plans to live. The former DuPage County resident did not respond to written Tribune requests to interview him at the Illinois River Correctional Center, a medium-security facility in Fulton County. He must register his new address with the state within three days of his release from prison, officials said, but he will not have to follow typical parole conditions because he completed his mandatory supervised release period behind bars.

Members of some victims’ families were outraged two summers ago when the Tribune first reported his anticipated release. Their efforts helped lead to an 18-month delay in his original parole date, but authorities announced in late 2017 there was nothing else they could do to hold him beyond March 29

Though still upset, some relatives say they accept the news.

“We’ve exhausted everything,” said Mark Borowski, who was 14 when his sister Lorry Ann was abducted after walking a few short blocks in broad daylight from her Elmhurst apartment to work. “There’s nothing else we can do. We fought as hard as we could. I cannot even imagine someone like this could get out.”

Those who know Kokoraleis — including psychiatrists and psychologists who in recent years evaluated him as part of a last-ditch effort to block his freedom — say he is not sexually violent. They portray him as a hapless follower with a low IQ who unwittingly inserted himself into the police investigation while trying to help his brother.

But police and prosecutors involved in the infamous case say they have no doubt about his involvement. Kokoraleis admitted in detailed, tape-recorded police interviews in November 1982 to being present during three attacks, including the slaying of Lorry Ann Borowski. At trial later, he denied being present and said police fed him details of the crimes. Authorities argued he wasn’t smart enough to memorize such descriptions even if they had.

His brother and a third defendant, Edward Spreitzer, did not mention him in their lengthy confessions. The ringleader, Robin Gecht, an electrical contractor and handyman who once worked for John Wayne Gacy, was the only member of the crew who did not confess. Authorities described the others as “genetic nobodies” whom Gecht easily manipulated while giving them work as laborers.

Lorry Ann Borowski’s mother, Lorraine, now 83, said she never imagined she’d see the day Kokoraleis would be a free man. She recalled that during the nearly five months the family searched for her daughter, she would carry a sheet, hoping to use it to cover Lorry Ann’s body and give her child dignity in death.

“I thought he was going to be in prison until I died,” Lorraine Borowski told the Tribune.

Local authorities in Canton, Ill., where Kokoraleis has been incarcerated, said he is not expected to remain in the area. Before his arrest, he lived in Villa Park, where the family still has elderly relatives. His parents are deceased.

Two of his brothers live together in a two-bedroom apartment in the northwest suburbs. One of them, Greg, told the Tribune his landlord has made it clear that the convicted murderer cannot stay with them. He insists his brother is not dangerous.

“My brother would never hurt no one,” he said this week. “He’s not that kind of a person that would turn violent. He got mixed up with the wrong people. … I’m just praying for him so he can find a place to live and doesn’t end up sleeping on the street.”

Other siblings live out of state.

Kokoraleis was due to be paroled in late September 2017, but his release was delayed because he had not found an approved place to live, which is considered a parole violation. State corrections officials declined to say where Kokoraleis plans to live or even if he has secured housing. But even if he hasn’t, officials said, they cannot hold him any longer. The state will provide him few resources beyond transportation from the prison, according to state officials and advocacy groups who have argued that such treatment of longtime inmates is inhumane.

State officials said Kokoraleis’ address will be a matter of public record on Illinois’ sex offender registry. Though he is not a convicted sex offender, officials said that because he is a murderer whose offense was sexually motivated, state law requires him to register for the rest of his life while living in Illinois. He will not be subject to other rules applying to sex offenders, such as boundary restrictions near parks, schools and day care facilities.

Elmhurst police Chief Michael Ruth said he shares community members’ concerns that Kokoraleis may return to the area.

“Human beings are creatures of habit,” he said. “If you were incarcerated for 35 years, where would you go? You go back to your old neighborhood, to what you’re familiar with.”

At the time of his arrest, Thomas Kokoraleis was a 22-year-old painter and high school dropout who admitted using cocaine and marijuana. He did not have a criminal record. A forensic psychiatrist described the former special education student as having a “borderline range of intellect,” just above being mentally impaired with an IQ of 75, according to court records.

His former trial attorney, Thomas Swiss, is now retired and said he has not spoken to Kokoraleis in years. He has described his former client as a follower and people pleaser, and a danger only to himself.

A DuPage County jury convicted Thomas Kokoraleis in 1984 of Borowski’s rape and murder, and a judge later sentenced him to life in prison after rejecting the prosecution’s request for the death penalty. He did not testify during his trial, but during his sentencing hearing he took the stand and denied involvement. In late 1986, a state appeals court reversed his guilty conviction, citing legal errors, and ordered a new trial.

One year later, Kokoraleis pleaded guilty to the Elmhurst murder in exchange for a 70-year prison term. The plea deal allowed for Friday’s release, as standard sentencing guidelines back then included day-for-day credit for good behavior. The passage of truth-in-sentencing laws later excluded convicted murderers from such perks.

As part of the plea deal, prosecutors also dropped charges against Kokoraleis involving another woman who is thought to be the men’s first victim.

Linda Sutton, 26, was found mutilated outside a Villa Park motel after the men abducted her about a week earlier near Wrigley Field in May 1981.

Her children, Antone and Shavonna, were 9 and 1 at the time of their mother’s violent death. Her son still recalls the sight of police detectives arriving at their home with her earrings to try to identify the woman’s remains.

“He served his time. We have to accept it,” said Antone Sutton, now a father himself. He said he has thought about what he would say if he ever met his mother’s killers. “I guess I just want to look in his eyes and speak to him. I can take it, whatever he says, to know the truth and, I guess, maybe release some inner demons in my mind.”

In 2017, authorities explored whether Thomas Kokoraleis could be involuntarily civilly committed as a sexually violent person. But various mental health experts found he did not meet the legal criteria. The law required proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a person suffers from a mental disorder and that the disorder makes it “substantially probable” he or she will commit further acts of sexual violence.

Besides crimes involving Borowski and Sutton, Kokoraleis admitted in his 1982 tape-recorded police statements to being present during the abduction of 30-year-old Shui Mak of Lombard. She vanished two weeks after Borowski’s kidnapping after getting out of a car following an argument with her brother as they drove in the Hanover Park area. Her body was discovered months later in a South Barrington field.

The details of the group’s repeated attacks on women were shocking. The men would cut off their victims’ breasts, often using piano wire or a knife while the women were alive, as part of sexual rituals — sometimes involving cannibalism — later performed at a makeshift altar in the ringleader’s Chicago home, authorities said.

Exactly how many people they killed likely will never be known, as police were unable to locate all the victims’ bodies. Police said the defendants were high on drugs and alcohol during the attacks, and later confused details or couldn’t recall where they dumped their victims.

Spreitzer, 58, is ineligible for parole. Convicted of five murders, he was sentenced to death in 1986, but in 2003 then-Gov. George Ryan cleared out death row, commuting to life terms the sentences of all the state’s condemned inmates. It was one of Ryan’s final acts in office. Illinois abolished the death penalty some eight years later.

The group’s leader, Gecht, 65, is eligible for parole in late 2042. If he lives that long, he will be 89. Without a confession or other physical evidence, authorities were unable to obtain a murder conviction against him. Gecht was sentenced to 120 years in prison for the rape and mutilation of an 18-year-old woman working as a prostitute who survived her attack and provided police with crucial details, such as a description of the reddish-orange utility van.

Warren Wilkosz, a former DuPage County sheriff detective whose work helped end the crew’s cruel run, described passing out flyers to prostitutes along Cicero Avenue with a description of the van. Chicago police eventually located it, with Spreitzer behind the wheel, which led authorities to the rest of the men. The teenage prostitute identified Gecht as her assailant in a police lineup held in the hospital where she was recovering.

Years later, Wilkosz witnessed Andrew Kokoraleis’ execution. Long retired, Wilkosz said he doesn’t have strong feelings about Thomas Kokoraleis’ release. Gecht, though, would be “a whole different thing,” he said.

“He made Manson look like a Boy Scout.”

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top