Newly paroled Chicago child killer Ray Larsen, 76, is now a fugitive, records show

He’d been paroled May 13 in the killing of 16-year-old Frank Casolari in Chicago in 1972. Now, he’s missing. And he’s not the only paroled killer the state of Illinois can’t find.

SHARE Newly paroled Chicago child killer Ray Larsen, 76, is now a fugitive, records show
Ray Larsen.

Ray Larsen.

Illinois Department of Corrections

A 76-year-old man who was paroled earlier this month in the 1972 killing of a teenage boy in Chicago while on a pass from prison to visit his grandmother is now a fugitive, according to state prison records.

Ray Larsen is listed by the Illinois Department of Corrections as an “absconder,” meaning parole officials don’t know where he is.

He was supposed to be living at an address on the Far South Side of Chicago, records show. Parolees must follow rules set out by the state, and they remain under the supervision of the corrections department until their parole terms are completed.

And Larsen isn’t the only paroled killer the state can’t find. Other parolees the department considers absconders include Alfred Myles, 63, who was convicted of a killing in Chicago in 1986, and Shannon Smith, 26, who was on parole for robbery when, according to the police in Elgin, he fatally shot his sister outside a bar in 2018.

The last contact that parole officials had with Larsen was on May 19, according to corrections officials, who said a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Last Thursday, the state corrections website described Larsen — whose last name the state spells as Larson — as an absconder. But Friday, after the Chicago Sun-Times asked the agency about his status, he no longer was listed that way. Then, on Monday, he again was listed as a fugitive.

Larsen was sentenced to 100 to 300 years in prison after confessing to killing 16-year-old Frank Casolari in the Schiller Woods Forest Preserve near O’Hare Airport on May 17, 1972. At the time of the killing, Larsen, then 27, was temporarily free on a “family furlough” from state prison, where he was serving time for robbery and other crimes. He was supposed to be visiting his grandmother when he fatally shot Casolari.

In prison, Larsen had a C-number — the type of identification number the state gave to convicts sentenced in Illinois before 1978. That’s when the state did away with indeterminate sentences that gave a range for a prison term rather than a set number of years.

Today, those convicted of first-degree murder in Illinois are required to serve their full sentences without the possibility of parole. But killers like Larsen, convicted before the law was changed, can get multiple chances for parole. Under the law at the time they were sentenced, they’re entitled to a parole hearing at least every five years.

In recent years, the Illinois Prisoner Review Board — which approved Larsen’s parole on a 9-3 vote — increasingly has granted parole to C-number inmates.

On Monday, four Republican state senators, upset over some of the prison review board’s decisions, questioned the appointments of four of the board’s members, saying they haven’t been confirmed by the Senate as required under the law.

Asked about that criticism, Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh called it “political grandstanding” and said, “The members’ appointments and votes are transparent, and their meetings are open to the public.”

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