AURORA – Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin is sharply critical of a decision by Wayside Cross Ministries to allow a recently released convicted murderer who was part of the infamous 'Ripper Crew' to live at its facility.
Thomas Kokoraleis – who was convicted of the 1982 murder of Lorraine "Lorry" Ann Borowski of Elmhurst – was released on March 29 from prison after serving half of his 70-year sentence. On March 31, Kokoraleis went into the Aurora Police Department to register as a sex offender and is now living at a facility at 215 E. New York St. in downtown Aurora run by Wayside Cross Ministries, Sgt. Bill Rowley, public information officer for the Aurora Police Department, confirmed in an email.
"The safety of the Aurora community is my primary concern," Irvin said in a statement. "Following shortly behind that concern is my desire to see Aurora continuing to thrive as a place where people and families will want to spend time and enjoy all this great city has to offer. While I appreciate the many good things that Wayside Cross Ministries does in our community, their decision suggests that they do not fully appreciate the impact Kokoraleis’ mere presence will have on the community as a whole."
Irvin said he hopes Wayside reconsiders the decision – "particularly given the Ministries’ close proximity to parks, churches, and day care centers."
"I absolutely disagree with Wayside Cross Ministries’ decision to allow Kokoraleis to reside at their facility in Aurora," he said.
In a statement on Wayside Cross Ministries' website, James Lukose, executive director of Wayside Cross Ministries, said that the organization did not seek out Kokoraleis upon his release from prison.
"He came to us seeking our help," Lukose said in the statement. "Ours being a Bible-based, Christ-centered ministry, we are mandated by our Lord Jesus Christ to love our neighbors."
Lukose said that almost one-third of the residents in Wayside Cross Ministries' Master’s Touch program arrive immediately after being released from prison.
"Some are former sex offenders," he said. "We do not discriminate. While participating in our Master’s Touch program, many of our residents have experienced permanent spiritual transformation through the power of the gospel of Christ. The Bible clearly commands us to show kindness and mercy towards all, even our enemies, the ungrateful and the wicked."
He said Wayside Cross Ministries is "called to help people like Thomas."
"God‘s grace transcends any human depravity and wickedness," he said. "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. We ask you to join us in this prayer."
Kokoraleis was convicted of the May 15, 1982, murder of Borowski, 21, of Elmhurst, after she was abducted near a former location of RE/MAX at Route 83 and St. Charles Road in Elmhurst where she worked.
Her remains were discovered five months later, on Oct. 10, at the Clarendon Hills Cemetery in Darien. Her left breast was absent, and there was evidence that indicated trauma from an ice pick, according to police.
Kokoraleis admitted to participating in Borowski’s abduction. While he denied he was involved in her rape and murder, Kokoraleis admitted he was present while his brother, Andrew Kokoraleis, and Edward Spreitzer raped and murdered Borowski, officials said.
Thomas Kokoraleis was convicted based on the accountability theory, which means he was held accountable for acts committed by other individuals.
He was sentenced to 70 years in prison for the murder, but he was only required to serve 50 percent of his sentence, based on sentencing laws in effect at that time.
Andrew Kokoraleis was convicted of the murders of Borowski and Rose Davis, and he was executed in 1999. Spreitzer was convicted of the murders of Linda Sutton, Shui Mak, Rose Davis, Sandra Delaware and Raphael Tiradao, and he is serving a natural life prison sentence with no possibility of parole.
He originally was given a death sentence that was commuted when former Gov. George Ryan commuted all death sentences in Illinois. Robin Gecht was convicted of the attempted murder, rape, aggravated kidnapping and deviate sexual assault of a woman, and he is eligible for parole in 2042.
The Ripper Crew was known for the abduction, rape, mutilation and murder of several women in cannibalistic rituals in the early 1980s in the Chicago area. The group was made up of Thomas and Andrew Kokoraleis, Spreitzer and Gecht.