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.