Ripper Crew or Chicago Rippers was a satanic cult and organized crime group composed of Robin Gecht and three associates (Edward Spreitzer with brothers Andrew and Thomas Kokoraleis). They were suspected in the disappearances of 18 women in Illinois in 1981 and 1982.
|Other names||The Chicago Rippers
The Ripper Crew
|Criminal penalty||120 years imprisonment (R.G.)
Death (E.S., commuted to life; A.K., executed)
Life imprisonment (T.K.)
Span of killings
|May 23, 1981–October 8, 1982|
|November 5, 1982|
1953 (age 63–64)
1958 (age 58–59)
|Died||March 16, 1999 (aged 37–38)
|Cause of death||Execution by lethal injection|
1958 (age 58–59)
The first victim of the gang was 28-year-old Linda Sutton, who was abducted on May 23, 1981. Ten days later, her body was found in a field in Villa Park, Illinois. Her body had been mutilated and her left breast amputated. It was almost a year before the gang struck again. On May 15, 1982, they abducted Lorraine Borowski, just as she was about to open the realtor's office where she worked. Her body was discovered five months later, in a cemetery in Villa Park. On May 29, they abducted Shui Mak from Hanover Park, just north of Villa Park. Her body was not found for four months. Two weeks after they abducted Mak, they picked up a prostitute known as Angel York in their van, handcuffed her and slashed her breast before throwing her out of the van, still alive. Unfortunately, York's description of her attackers failed to produce any leads and the gang did not strike again for two months.
On August 28, 1982, the body of prostitute Sandra Delaware was discovered on the bank of the Chicago River. She had been stabbed, strangled, and her left breast was amputated. On September 8, 31-year-old Rose Davis was found in an alley, having suffered almost identical injuries as Delaware. A month later, the gang committed their last crime. Their victim, prostitute Beverley Washington was found by a railroad track on December 6. In addition to other injuries, her left breast had been amputated and her right breast was severely slashed. She survived the attack, and was able to give description of her attackers and the van they had used to abduct her.
The men were suspects in the disappearance of Carole Pappas, wife of Chicago Cubs pitcher, Milt Pappas. She disappeared on September 11, 1982. Her body was recovered five years later, and the death was ruled an accident.
Arrest and Convictions
When Gecht was first arrested, he had to be released because the police had little evidence connecting him to the crimes. But after further investigation, the police discovered that in 1981, he had rented a room in a motel along with three friends – each with adjoining rooms. The hotel manager said that they had held loud parties and appeared to be involved in some kind of cult. Police then tracked down the other men, Edward Spreitzer and the Kokoraleis brothers. When interrogated, Thomas Kokoraleis confessed that he and the others had taken women back to Gecht's place – what Gecht called a "satanic chapel." There they had raped and tortured the women, and amputated their breasts with a wire garrotte. Kokoraleis went on to say that they would eat parts of the severed breasts as kind of a sacrament, and that Gecht would masturbate into the breasts before putting them in a box. Kokoraleis claimed that he once saw 15 breasts in the box.
The Kokoraleis brothers and Spreitzer confessed to their crimes, but Gecht protested his innocence. After a series of trials, Thomas Kokoraleis was convicted of murder but only sentenced to life imprisonment as his reward for his initial confession. Since then his life sentence has been commuted and he is now scheduled to be released on September 30, 2017. He is currently located in the Illinois River Correctional Center. Gecht is serving 120 years in the Menard Correctional Center for the attempted murder and rape of Beverly Washington and will be eligible for parole in 2022. Andrew Kokoraleis on the other hand was sentenced to death and was executed by lethal injection on March 16, 1999.
Edward Spreitzer was sentenced to death but the sentence was commuted in George H. Ryan's last-minute commutation of all death sentences in Illinois in 2003. Incidentally, Andrew Kokoraleis' was Governor Ryan's only execution, just over two months into his administration. Kokoraleis was also the last inmate executed in Illinois, almost 12 years before Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation to abolish the death penalty on March 9, 2011, and commuted 15 death sentences to life imprisonment without parole.
The Kokoraleis brothers were raised Greek Orthodox. The Orthodox Church attempted unsuccessfully to keep Andrew Kokoraleis from being executed. Dimitrios Kantzavelos, at that time a chancellor (later a bishop) of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Chicago, became an anti-death-penalty activist as a result of the execution, and helped lobby in favor of ending the death penalty in the state.
- Schneck, Robert Damon (2014). "Ku Klux Klowns: Grim Rippers". Mrs. Wakeman vs. the Anti-Christ: And Other Strange-but-true Tales From American History. (E-Book ed.). [S.l.]: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-1585429448.
- Ramsland, Katherine. (2005) The Human Predator: A Historical Chronicle of Serial Murder and Forensic Investigation, Berkley Books, ISBN 978-0-425-20765-9 p. 220.
- Greig, Charlotte (2005). Evil Serial Killers: In the Minds of Monsters. New York: Barnes & Noble. p. 142. ISBN 0760775664.
- Ramsland, Katherine. "The story of Robin Gecht & the notorious Chicago Rippers". Crime Library. truTV.com/Turner Broadcasting. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- Greig, Charlotte (2005). Evil Serial Killers: In the Minds of Monsters. New York: Barnes & Noble. p. 143. ISBN 0760775664.
- Houston, Jack (1987-08-09). "Pappas Identified – No Sign Of Foul Play". articles.chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
- "Greek-American Executed in Illinois for 1982 Murder". Macedonian Press Agency. Hellenic Resources Network. 1999-03-17. Retrieved 2009-01-06.
- Long, Ray (March 9, 2011). "Quinn signs death penalty ban, commutes 15 death row sentences to life". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
- "Last Person to Receive Illinois Death Penalty Was Greek".
- "Religious Leaders Call For Halt To Executions".