Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Ripper Murders

by Susan Murphy-Milano

The old case file had been tucked away for over twenty years in the rafters of an attic. On the case file jacket in bold, handwritten letters was the name Robin Gecht. It was the original police file containing the names of twenty women connected with one of the most notorious gangs of serial killers in history.

The Chicago Rippers
were a group of four hoodlums—Andrew Kokoraleis, Tommy Kokoraleis, Robin Gecht, and Edward Spreitzer (pictured below, left to right)—who practiced satanic worship. The men had journeyed into a trend of sorts that swept through the country in the late 1970's and into the early '80s, especially among teenagers: practicing satanic worship.

The Ripper Crew," as they would come to be known, had taken their rituals much further than most who believed they could somehow make contact with evil from the dark side.

The case file revealed how the killers saved the flesh they had removed from their victims. According to the signed confession of Thomas Kokoraleis, he "cut up the breasts," and consumed them as a form of satanic communion in front of a makeshift altar.

Robin Gecht, the group's leader, had an altar in the attic of his Northwest Side home, where the young men gathered during the evening hours after Gecht's wife had left for work. Gecht had painted six twelve-inch red-and-black crosses on the walls and draped the altar with a red cloth.

Detectives from Chicago and the surrounding suburbs worked together to solve these horrific murders. Each case began as an abduction or a missing persons report. The first known case was Linda Sutton, 28, abducted from a Chicago suburb. Her severely mutilated body found with the left breast cut out from her chest was left naked in a field.

Each of the twenty victims were gang-raped and then forced to endure having their breasts sliced open and cut off using piano wire, ice picks, can openers, and hunting knives. The men would then use
the cut body parts for a satanic sacrifice by eating the women's breasts. All but two of the victims died.

After several months, police hit a dead end. Nearly another year would pass before the next victim would be reported.

A break in the case finally came on October 7, 1982. A twenty-year-old woman by the name of Beverly Washington was discovered nude beside railroad tracks in Chicago. Barely alive and naked, with her left breast severed and the right badly mutilated, she survived the brutal attack.

Two Chicago Police Detectives from Area Four Violent Crimes were called into the case. They interviewed Beverly Washington from her hospital bed. She provided details of the van and a description of the four men who had abducted her.

A directive in the form of a memo from the Mayor's office stated this case was a priority. Specific case details of the victims' murders were withheld from the public. The detectives worked around the clock.

DNA testing had yet to be developed. The solving of the serial murders would be done using pure instinct and good old-fashioned police work.

On November 7, 1982, all four men
were arrested. They were placed in separate interrogation rooms. Andrew Kokorakeis was the first to break, confessing to at least seven of eighteen known murders. The case notes included a hand-drawn map of a cemetery in a nearby suburb of Chicago. The badly decomposed body of a victim murderd five months earlier would be recovered by police based on the map.

The two detectives who would eventually solve the murders, Thomas Flynn and Phillip Murphy, had been partners for over twenty years. On January 6, 1984, during a ceremony at the police academy—with the Attorney General, Mayor, and Superintendent present—the detectives were honored and presented with a special plaque for solving the serial murders.

This would be their career case. One that the City of Chicago and this police detective's daughter would never forget.

In the strange twist of events that would follow, the detective, Philip Murphy, would no longer be known for solving the worst serial murder case in Chicago's history. Instead, five years later, his legacy would be for the murder of his wife, my mother, in 1989, before he took his own life.

My father was one hell of a detective, loved and revered by so many. He would be a man I never really knew. A man who brought terror and violence into our home on a regular basis.

And yet, a man who made the streets of Chicago a safer place to live.
Much safer with the Ripper Crew off the streets. What became of them? Andrew Kokoralesis was executed in March of 1999; Thomas Kokoralesis is serving 470 years; Edward Sprietzer received a life sentence; and Robin Gecht is serving 120 years.

Susan Murphy-Milano is a nonfiction author and violence experta defender of victims' rights. Susan has appeared on Oprah, 20/20, American Justice, and CNN. As a nationally recognized women's advocate, she was intrumental in the passage of the Illinois Stalking Law and the Lautenberg Act. Susan's third book, It’s Him or Me, will be available soon.


Pellican said...

The story gave me chills. I read in one of the link that Robin Gecht was employed by John Wayne Gacy. And Gecht's son is now in jail for a gang related murder.

Great Read!

Anonymous said...

Retired Belmont & Western

It was your dad who followed up theb leads from the hotel where the suspects rented rooms. From there a clerk provided important details. Flynn & Murph were known as the dymanic duo.

I knew both guys. Flynn passed on a few years ago. They always had your back on the job.

Where ever Murphy he's smiling.
And so am I.

G.M, Sgt. Area 4, VC&H

cherry6905 said...

Wow! Great read! Love this site, it's like mini good books everyday!
You women are all so impressive. Thank you for what you are doing, helping victims, educating the public, fighting and helping solve crime.
I'm really proud of you! I thank God for you!

yogini said...

Susan, you remind me of the saying: "out of mud a lotus flower grows". This saying, derived from the tenets of Buddhism, means that we can turn adversity to our benefit with the right attitude and intention. The lotus so delicate and beautiful, springs forth and flourishes out of the mud.

I see that in your example. How very beneficial for the rest of us!

Your story underlines the interconnectedness of all things. Starting with the sick individuals your father took off the streets to your horrific experience of finding your mom. The moment in time, that shaped and transformed you into the selfless/fearless person you are today, helping save the lives of numberless women...

May you be blessed with the same
love and care you've given us.

Cloey said...

Fantastic story and great writing. Thank you for sharing this with us!


A.J. Illinois said...

A sick bunch of murderer's. Lorraine Borowski was only 21 when they killer her. The only reason Edward Spreitzer is still breathing (he was suppose to be excuted) is because Gov. Ryan removed the death penalty. I went to high school with Lorraine.

None of these women deserved to die. Why is it that tragedy makes good reading? It really doesn't, not when the person you knew is part of the tragedy.

Anonymous said...

This tragedy has many layers. The insight and delicate balance this true life story tells is a lesson we can all learn.

InThe1stPlace said...

Wow! I never heard of this case. The article & links are fantastic!

Delilah said...

This is a brutal story and one that has shaped the fabric of your being. I admire the courage you show every day that you put yourself in the trenches to help victims who very well could not get out alive if it weren't for you.

Great story, great site, great writers, all of you!

Kathryn Casey said...

Wonderful post, Susan. I always tell folks that I write true crime to illustrate the worst and the best in human nature. By the best, I mean those who sacrifice to solve the crimes and survivors who go on to do great things. You are certainly the embodiment of that statement. Very inspirational.

Robin Sax said...

Great post...Certainly makes you think the tentacles of crime run really deep.

Mainstream Living, Chicago said...

You are a bright light for all victims of crime. Always surprising us with your insight and experience. I was blown away by your article.

Anonymous said...

You know the old saying: Good people aren't all good and bad people aren't all bad. The story of your father proves this is true. At the same time your father was terrorizing your family, he went to work, had friends and protected others. A colleague of his in an earlier post said that wherever he is, he must be smiling. It's a pity that this colleague wasn't able to protect you or your mother. I will give him the benefit of the doubt because I would like to believe that he didn't know what was happening in your home. Susan, it appears that you got the best quality from your father. Protecting others. The rest of your qualities must have come from your mother. I am sure she is smiling at you right now and is very proud of you for the work you have done to help other women not meet the same fate as she did.

Susan Murphy-Milano said...

To each of you. Many thanks for taking the time to comment on my debut post.

Please continue to visit this site daily and read all the authors whom each day sound the horns of justice.

Donna Pendergast said...


Awesome article. Thanks for telling your story

TxMichelle said...

Spent most of the day getting sidetracked clicking on the links.
I admire your courage and the help you are giving to these women and children.

This is an excellent article. Thank you.

Leah said...

This is an awesome article and Susan, you are a very courageous and inspirational woman. I am so very impressed with your fortitude and all that you have done for crime victims. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I found the surviving three on the Illinois Department of Corrections web site.

Gecht looks content. Spreitzer looks happy.

Levi said...

Let's see, these monsters gang raped their victims, ate their flesh, saved some of their victims flesh for reminders of the thrill they get out of killing, mutilating, and gang raping their poor victims. These crimes are beyond the sadism of Saddam Hussein, and did these crimes ever cross the mind of Gov. Ryan when he removed the death penalty? Nope.

Levi said...

A.J. Illinois, when something like this happens to someone you know, or went to school with, it instills a fear in you and an outrage. You mentioned Gov. Ryan, he is currently serving time after being convicted in 2006 in a corruption trial. It's called KARMA.

Levi said...

Susan, you should write a True Crime book about this from the perspective as the detectives daughter who worked on the case. Great post!

I feel so sorry for the woman who survived. I wonder how she is holding up today? Even after all these years it has to haunt her, after having an encounter with these sub-human, filthy, pigs who enjoyed being evil, and enjoyed destroying human life.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know how Mr. Gecht could have such a chapel on his home without his wife knowing. Also, why won't the state allow Gecht to have the DNA testing done.

Susan Murphy Milano's Journal said...

A public blog is not always the best place for questions and answers. Please email me privately
at mattersofsafety@aol.com.

I look foward to hearing from you.

Anet said...

I just read your story and want to say thank you! My aunt Lorraine Borowski "Lorry Ann" as my family called her was murdered by those sick men as you know, it is hard for my family to discuss the fact of loosing their daughter/sister/aunt as it would be for anyone! I have come across many articles and stories that are so cruel sounding and " disgusting" websites that are set in a tone to some how honor these men for what they have done! your article was heart felt thank you,

Anonymous said...

When I was 16 I worked at a KFC on the corner of Austin and Gunnison, Tommy K worked there with me and Eddy would come by in his van to pick Tommy up. I remember hanging out with them after KFC closed in the parking lot. I thank God every day that I never got into that van or went any where with them. They always freaked me out they were scary back then too.

Anonymous said...

none of you know half of what the kokoraleis family was about, andrew and tommy abused and sexually assulted their younger brother nick, their own father molested and got his own daughter christina pregnant twice. that whole family was really strange and creepy I went to school with nick and christina...

Anonymous said...

I went to York High School and also worked with Lorry Borowski at a restaurant in Elmhurst. She was beautiful and had a smile that would light up the room. My boyfriend and I would sometimes drive her home from work after closing. I remember we would sit in the vehicle and watch her get safely in her house. What haunts me is the fact that she was abducted and then murdered when all she was doing was walking to her secretarial job in broad daylight. Her life was moving forward. I still find it hard to believe, and it still brings me great sadness. I will never forget my friend Lorraine's shining presence, and her sweetness. She forever impacted my life, as well as many other people's.

Anonymous said...


I assume the restaurant you are talking about was "The Ground Round"
I worked there when Lorry did and also went to York. I remember that smile too...