Who Are The Ripper Crew? Details About The Chicago Rippers And Thomas Kokoraleis

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Who Are The Ripper Crew? Details About The Chicago Rippers And Thomas Kokoraleis
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A known killer is living in the suburbs of Chicago after his release from prison for murder.

Thomas Kokoraleis, 58, was released on Mar. 29; he served half a 70-year murder sentence. On Sunday morning, he visited the Aurora Police Department and registered to live at Wayside Cross Ministries. The ministry housing is a halfway house that accepts convicted villains. It is also about five miles from a park and elementary school.

Kokoraleis is listed on the Illinois Sex Offender Information registry. He is not a convicted sex offender, however, so he can live near schools and parks.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin is not pleased with this new addition to his town. He urged the Ministries in a statement Monday evening to reconsider their choice to take in the convicted murderer.

“In light of the unspeakable nature of the crimes committed by the Ripper Crew, I would hope that Wayside would reconsider the decision that brought Kokoraleis to Aurora — particularly given the Ministries’ close proximity to parks, churches and day care centers,” Irvin said. “I absolutely disagree with Wayside Cross Ministries’ decision to allow Kokoraleis to reside at their facility in Aurora.”

Irvin acknowledged that former inmates can change—for better, or for worse. As a former attorney, he has seen both.

“It is a risk the people of Aurora shouldn’t have to take,” he said.

Wayside Cross responded to criticism of their decision in a statement, which draws from Bible passages about helping neighbors and showing mercy towards all people.

“Wayside Cross Ministries (WCM) did not seek out Thomas Kokoraleis upon his release from prison. He came to us seeking our help. Ours being a Bible-based, Christ-centered ministry, we are mandated by our Lord Jesus Christ to love our neighbors.”

“God's grace transcends any human depravity and wickedness. Therefore, we hope and pray that Thomas would one day return to society as a God honoring productive member, displaying the amazing transforming power of Christ.”

Kokoraelis was a member of the Ripper Crew. He is the only one that has been released.

Who are the Ripper Crew? Below are five details about the group, their heinous crimes and where they are now.

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1. They consisted of four members.

Kokoraleis sheds tears after facing rejection from the Aurora community.

The Ripper Crew, or the Chicago Rippers, were a group of four men. While they were active, their ages ranged from 21 to 29.

The four members are Robin Gecht, Edward Spreitzer and brothers Andrew and Thomas Kokoraleis.

Interestingly, Robin Gecht, the crew’s ringleader, was connected to another notorious serial killer through his day job. John Wayne Gacy contracted Gecht for electrical work, as Gecht was an electrician and handyman, during the peak of Gacy’s killing spree in the 1970s.

2. The crew committed horrific murders.

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The Ripper Crew were suspected of abducting, sexually assaulting and murdering up to 20 women in Illinois from 1981 to 1982. Most of their murders took place from May 1982 to December 1982. They centered on Chicago and its suburban areas.

The crew was caught because their last would-be murder victim, Beverley Washington, survived her attack. Police found her by a railroad track on Dec. 6, 1982: her left breast had been amputated, and her right slashed, along with other injuries. Her descriptions helped police find the crew.

Another would-be murder victim, Angel York, also survived her attack, but was unable to provide descriptions that produced leads. The crew had picked her up in a van in June 1982, handcuffed her, slashed her breast, and threw her out of the van.

The crew followed the same pattern of assault and mutilation. Lorraine “Lorry” Ann Borowski, one of their victims, was found with ice pick wounds all over her body. Her left breast had been amputated while she was alive.

3. They were a satanic cult.

The crew’s focus on their victims’ breasts was part of their ritual. They would remove their victim’s breasts with a wire garrote, then reportedly bring the severed flesh to Gecht’s house. Gecht had an altar in his house, which he shared with his wife and three children. Gecht called it a “satanic chapel.”

According to testimony, the men would eat parts of the breasts as a sacrament, read from The Satanic Bible before the altar and masturbate into the remains of the breast. The breast was then placed in a box with those belonging to other victims.

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4. One of the members protested his innocence.

Gecht insisted he was innocent during his trial. He had been released after his first arrest following Washington’s descriptions: police did not have enough evidence connecting him to the crimes. However, he was sentenced to three 60-year sentences, and one 30-year sentence. He is serving in the Menard Correctional Center and will be eligible for parole in 2042, when he will be 89 years old.

5. Another was executed.

The other crew members confessed their crimes.

Edward Spreitzer was given the death sentence; however, his sentence was commuted. Governor George H. Ryan commuted all death sentences in Illinois in 2003, just before the end of his tenure. Instead of execution, Spreitzer received 6 life sentences, as well as over 400 years for crimes other than murder. Years later, Governor Pat Quinn abolished the death penalty in Illinois in 2011.

While Spreitzer escaped the death penalty, Andrew Kokoraleis did not. He too was sentenced to death, and was executed by lethal injection on March 16, 1999. He was the only person to be executed via the death penalty while Governor Ryan was in office, as well as the last in the state of Illinois.

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Alison Cerri is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.