|The Chicago Rippers|
Earlier today someone asked me if I had begun working on my second book as of yet. “No,” I responded, I went on to let them know that I am still investigating and researching various topics within the true crime genre. As an ex-criminal and true crime author I am normally not shocked by the articles, biographies and documentaries that I utilize for research in my works. That is until today; I was researching the potential links between H.H, Holmes and Jack the Ripper and came across a group known as the Ripper Crew or The Chicago Rippers.
Comprised of Robin Gecht, Edward Spreitzer with brothers Andrew and Thomas Kokoraleis, these men are suspected to be responsible for the disappearance of at least 18 women from the Chicago area in 1981 and 1982. During their time of operation, the group would drive around in a van looking for prostitutes to sacrifice in Gecht’s apartment. Led by Gecht; these four men raped, tortured, mutilated and killed prostitutes throughout Cook & DuPage counties. Afterwards they would remove one breast from each victim and eaten it as Gecht read passages of “The Satanic Bible”. It has also been said that they, after severing the breast, took turns raping the open wound. They then proceeded to each masturbate into the flesh of the breast, chop it into pieces, and devour it. When the ritualistic behavior was done, they would dump the corpse and proceed to seek out their next victim. In 1982 Beverly Washington, a twenty-year-old prostitute, was found near death alongside some railroad tracks. Despite being raped, slashed, and having her left breast severed, Washington survived to give a description of her attacker and the van she was taken in.
The men were arrested in 1982. The Kokoraleis brothers and Spreitzer confessed their wrong doings in full gory detail. Each of them hesitated to involve Gecht in the crimes, some speculate out of fear or because of the sheer control that Gecht had over the other men. Gecht attempted to escape punishment by offering an insanity excuse. The strategy proved somewhat affective initially and caused a mistrial but that would not be the case in the second trial which began on September 30th, 1983. The jury found Gecht guilty of attempted murder, rape, deviate sexual assault, aggravated battery, and armed violence. He was sentenced to 120 years in prison. When asked why he was not convicted of murder, the jury cited the lack of hard evidence against him.
Tommy Kokoraleis, 23, attempted to block his confession from being admitted into his trial, but lost. He was convicted in 1984 and was sentenced to 70 years in prison. Andrew Kokoraleis was tried in two separate counties for his crimes. After being tried, convicted and sentenced to life in the first trial he too attempted to recant his confession in his second trial. This strategy proved futile as he was sentenced to death. On March 16, 1999, 35-year-old Andrew Kokoraleis was executed by lethal injection at Tamms Correctional Center. Also sentenced to death, Edward Spreitzer’s sentence was commuted in George H. Ryan’s last-minute commutation of all death sentences in Illinois in 2003.
The true accounts of the murderous exploits of these men were shocking. The devil truly is in the details of the crimes perpetrated by this group. A more shocking fact is that we share the planet, country, state and city with individuals of equal if not greater levels of depravity. As we carry out our day to day activities, we must make a commitment to ourselves, as it is our obligation, to look out, not only for ourselves but for each other. Not living in fear but being aware of our surroundings makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the devil to touch any one of us.