By Dee Longfellow

For The ELMHURST Independent

 

Over the weekend, the Independent learned that 58-year-old Thomas Kokoraeleis, a convicted murderer and one-time resident of Villa Park, was released from the Illinois River Correction Center outside of Peoria on Friday, March 29. Kokoraeleis, a member of the notorious “Ripper Crew” gang, had been sentenced to 70 years in prison for the 1982 slaying of 21-year-old Lorraine “Lorry” Ann Borowski, an Elmhurst resident who worked for a local realtor. After disappearing in May of 1982, Borowski was discovered buried in a shallow grave near Clarendon Hills about five months later.

While initially sentenced to life in prison for slaying Borowski, Kokoraleis was offered by prosecutors to plead guilty in exchange for a 70-year term in prison, in lieu of death penalty. Because prisoners can get day-for-day for good behavior, Kokoraleis is being released after 35 years.

In October of 2017, when Kokoraeleis was originally scheduled to be released, correctional officers refused to release him until there was an appropriate post-prison “halfway house” type residence for him to live that complies with Illinois’ convicted sex-offender residency conditions. According to corrections officials, at any given time, 1,200 to 1,400 inmates remain in custody beyond their projected release dates because they cannot find a place to live that parole officers find suitable.

While originally expected to move to Wheaton, late Sunday evening, March 24, the Independent learned that Kokoraleis had registered as a sex offender with the Aurora Police Department, a requirement of his parole. On his registration, he listed his residence as a Christian mission in Aurora, known as Wayside Cross Ministries. The Aurora Police Department released the following statement:

“Kokoraleis came into the Aurora Police Department this morning [Sunday] and registered on the Illinois Sex Offender Registry. He was required to register by tomorrow morning so by registering today, he was in compliance.”

 

More about the Ripper Crew…

Over their history, four members of the “Ripper Crew,” including Kokoraeleis and his brother Andrew, had abducted, raped, tortured and killed at least 17 women in the Chicagoland area as part of a satanic cult. It was reported that the men would cut off women’s breasts often while they were still alive. The name Ripper Crew came as a reference to Jack the Ripper, who the gang is reported to emulate.

Andrew Kokoraleis became the last person to be executed in the state of Illinois, just before then-Governor George Ryan declared a moratorium on the death penalty in the state. Two other members of the Ripper Crew, including ringleader Robin Gecht, remain incarcerated. Gecht was an electrical contractor and handyman who once worked with John Wayne Gacy, reports said. Gecht was the only member of the Ripper Crew who never confessed to any of the crimes.

 

Attempts to extend incarceration fail

Attorneys worked hard to classify Kokoraleis as a sexually-violent person who is a danger to society in order to keep him in prison. Doctors who examined Kokoraleis told prison officials it was “unlikely” he would offend again.

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin released a statement saying that he had worked with the Attorney General’s office to keep Kokoraleis from re-entering society.

“Mr. Kokoraleis was evaluated by extremely experienced psychologists and a psychiatrist who found he did not meet the necessary criteria – having a mental disorder that makes him violent and being highly likely to commit future acts of sexual violence – that would enable us to bring a petition to find him sexually violent under state law,” Berlin said.

 

The victim’s family responds

An alert from Illinois’ victim notification system was issued Friday, March 29 to announced Kokoraleis had been discharged from the Illinois Department of Corrections. While the family of Lorry Borowski is disappointed, they are accepting that his release is inevitable.

“We’ve exhausted everything,” Lorry’s brother Mark was quoted as saying. “There’s nothing else we can do. We fought as hard as we could. I cannot even imagine someone like this could get out.”

Borowski’s mother Lorraine is now 83 and says she never thought she’d see the day Kokoraleis would be released.

“I thought he’d be in prison until I died,” she said.

Lorry Ann Borowski was laid to rest in Mount Emblem Cemetery in Elmhurst.

Sharing the concern that Kokoraleis could return to the area was Elmhurst Police Chief Michael Ruth.

“Human beings are creatures of habit,” he said. “If you were incarcerated for 35 years, where would you go? You go back to your old neighborhood to what you’re familiar with.”

 

 

 

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