Convicted Starved Rock killer’s lawyer: DNA test casts doubt on Chester Weger’s conviction
Attorney Andrew Hale told a LaSalle County judge a hair found on the glove of one of the three women killed at Starved Rock State Park in 1960 fits the profile of an unidentified man, saying, “for sure it exonerates him.”
DNA testing and other newly unearthed evidence shows Chester Weger, who was convicted of the infamous 1960 Starved Rock State Park killings, is innocent, his lawyer told a LaSalle County judge Monday.
Weger, 83, confessed to killing three suburban women found bludgeoned in the park southwest of Chicago. But he soon recanted and has maintained his innocence ever since.
The Illinois Prisoner Review Board paroled Weger in 2020 after a board member argued he was a model prisoner.
Last year, LaSalle County Judge Michael Jansz granted Weger’s request to test hairs found on the victims. Microtrace, an Elgin forensics lab whose work helped identify serial killers in Seattle and Atlanta, is part of Weger’s legal team.
On Monday, Weger’s attorney Andrew Hale told Jansz testing on a hair found on the left index finger of one of the victims, Frances Murphy, developed a DNA profile of an unidentified man who isn’t Weger.
“I’m making the case this exonerates him,” Hale said. “And when you take it with all the other evidence, for sure it exonerates him.
“All the other evidence, we didn’t get enough genetic material to test,” he said.
Hale said he hopes to meet with Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, who was appointed special prosecutor in the case, to argue Weger’s conviction should be vacated.
If that doesn’t happen, Hale said, he plans to file a post-conviction motion to overturn the conviction and might seek executive clemency from Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
Dozens of people packed the LaSalle County courtroom where Hale revealed the testing results Monday.
“There were tons of Chester Weger supporters,” he said. “It was amazing.”
Outside court, Weger said the developments in his case were “wonderful.”
Weger was convicted of killing Lillian Oetting, 50, but wasn’t tried in the killings of her friends Mildred Lindquist, 50, and Murphy, 47.
The women, all from the Chicago area, were found dead after hiking in the popular state park 100 miles southwest of Chicago while on vacation. Weger worked at a lodge where they were staying.
Earlier this year, Hale said he turned up a police report of an overheard conversation on a pay phone that he said proves Weger wasn’t the killer. Hale said police report was a “smoking gun” indicating that others killed the women.