Thomas Kokoraleis, 59, was released from a Chicago prison on Friday after serving 35 years, or half of his 70-year prison sentence, for abduction, rape and murder. Kokoraleis was part of a satanic cult known as the “Ripper Crew” that terrorized the streets of Chicago during the early 1980s, and was arrested in 1982 for his role in the rape and murder of Lorraine Borowski, a 21-year-old receptionist.
Prosecutors alleged that Kokoraleis and three other men — his brother Andrew, Edward Spreitzer, and Robin Gecht — targeted Borowski and abducted her outside of her office. They then took her to Gecht’s attic, where they murdered and dismembered her.
The four men were members of the “Ripper Crew,” who drove around Chicago in a red van looking for female victims for satanic rituals. The men were suspected to have raped, killed and dismembered as many as 20 women in the Chicagoland area.
During a conversation with police, Kokoraleis confessed to the murders of Borowski and another woman, Linda Sutton. (Charges against Kokoraleis for his role in Sutton’s murder were later dropped.) He said that the men would abduct women and torture them in Gecht’s attic, which they referred to as a “satanic chapel”; they would then dismember the women by cutting off their breasts and keeping them in a box as part of a satanic ritual.
Kokoraleis later said that the confession was coerced and that he had fabricated many of these details. Additionally, psychologists and psychiatrists who have worked with Kokoraleis in prison allege that he has a low IQ and only inadvertently became involved in the police investigation because he was trying to help his brother, according to the Chicago Tribune.
In 1984, Kokoraleis was sentenced to life in prison, but his conviction was overturned in 1986 upon appeal due to legal errors. He was then given a 70-year sentence, which was cut in half to 35 years for good behavior under Illinois sentencing guidelines. Kokoraleis’s brother Andrew was executed by lethal injection in 1999; Spreitzer was initially sentenced to death, but was given a life sentence after Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011. Gecht was sentenced to 120 years in prison and is eligible for parole in 2042.
Kokoraleis’ short sentence outraged Borowski’s family members, who protested the decision. Attorney Gloria Allred issued a press release on Friday announcing that she would hold a news conference speaking on behalf of the Borowskis’ regarding Kokoraleis’ early release. In a Facebook post, the Elmhurst Police Department, which originally worked on the case, issued a statement apologizing to the Borowski family: “Understanding that the parole of this killer causes much pain and grief, please know that we extend our heartfelt condolences to the Borowski family, friends, and Elmhurst community, and know that the Elmhurst Police Department stand with you during this difficult time.” Those who have worked with Kokoraleis in prison, however, insist he is not violent, and that he is active in prison religious services and has been on excellent behavior.
As part of the terms of release, Kokoraleis will have three days to register at a new address and will have to register for Illinois’ sex offender registry.