Wayside Cross Ministries will continue to house a recently released convicted murderer who was part of the infamous 'Ripper Crew.'
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.
"We are certainly aware of, and sensitive to, the concerns raised in the wake of Thomas’ enrollment in our Master’s Touch ministry," James Lukose, executive director of Wayside Cross Ministries, said in a statement on the organization's website. "However, if we were to reject people on the basis of their background, or because their histories are high profile, we would be violating our mission as a Christ-centered recovery ministry of life-transformation through our Lord Jesus Christ."
The board of directors of Wayside Cross Ministries discussed the issue during a special board meeting on April 22.
"If WCM ever fails to live up to its mission and core values, those seeking our services in the future – a group that will surely include many non-violent offenders, the chronically homeless, and battered women and children – would have no reason to believe that we are who we say we are," Lukose said in the statement.
At the same time, he said Wayside Cross Ministries remains "committed to finding a solution that will ease the concerns of the community and allow Thomas to continue receiving the help he is seeking."
Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin has been sharply critical of Wayside Cross Ministries' decision to house Kokoraleis.
"As part of the Ripper Crew, his beliefs rooted in cult-like rituals inspired his 'ways' that led to the murder of Lorraine Ann Borowski and the alleged murder and mutilation of 18 more women," Irvin said in an April 5 statement. "After 35 years in prison and regular spiritual counseling, he is admittedly still 'trying' to change. I will say it again, this is a risk the people of Aurora shouldn’t have to take. Although I have supported Wayside’s mission in the past, I will not support a decision to keep Kokoraleis in Aurora. Wayside should reverse its decision and relocate him."
In the statement, Irvin said Wayside Cross Ministries has implemented heightened security measures, including placing a full-time monitor with Kokoraleis and adding safety personnel on the property. 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.