Paroled in Starved Rock killings after nearly 60 years in prison, Chester Weger seeks a hearing to prove his innocence

His lawyers want a judge to consider a DNA test they say points to another man and witnesses who say they were told a relative of one of the victims arranged for mobsters to kill the three west suburban women.

SHARE Paroled in Starved Rock killings after nearly 60 years in prison, Chester Weger seeks a hearing to prove his innocence
Chester Weger, then 21, during a re-enactment in Starved Rock State Park’s St Louis Canyon after he confessed Nov. 17, 1960, to killing three women from Riverside.

Chester Weger, then 21, during a re-enactment in Starved Rock State Park’s St Louis Canyon after he confessed Nov. 17, 1960, to killing three women from Riverside.

The Daily Times, Ottawa via AP

Chester Weger, convicted in the 1960 Starved Rock killings of three west suburban women, asked a judge Friday to grant him a hearing to present new evidence to prove his innocence.

His lawyers want the judge to consider, among other things, a DNA test they say points to another man and witnesses who say they were told a relative of one of the victims arranged for mobsters to kill the women.

Weger, 83, was paroled for good behavior in prison after serving nearly six decades but wasn’t cleared of the killings at Starved Rock State Park about 90 miles southwest of downtown Chicago.

Last year, he failed to convince Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, appointed as a special prosecutor in the case, to vacate his sentence.

Weger was convicted of killing Lillian Oetting, who was found dead with friends Frances Murphy and Mildred Linquist after the three women from Riverside went on a hike in the park. Prosecutors said he acted alone.

Chester Weger, 65, in a 2005 prison photo.

Chester Weger, 65, in a 2005 prison photo.

Illinois Department of Corrections

Weger attorneys Andy Hale and Celeste Stack presented LaSalle County Judge Michael Jansz with a petition that they say supports their claim that Weger was framed, including:

  • A DNA test that showed a hair found on a gloved hand of Murphy was from an unidentified man.
  • Expert testimony that a log which prosecutors said was used in the killing didn’t come from the area. The women were likely killed by weapons such as a baseball bat and tire iron, one expert said.
  • Interviews with people who said now-dead mobsters confided in them that they were involved in the killings. One talked about putting his and other killers’ bloody clothes in his car and later driving to another county to burn the evidence. An Illinois State Police report documented an interview with a telephone operator who said she heard a conversation shortly after the killings between two men discussing the disposal of bloody clothes.

Family members of the victims have told the Chicago Sun-Times they were outraged that Hale would present a theory that a relative of one of the women plotted to kill them.

Weger’s petition also said a now-deceased LaSalle County state’s attorney, along with two late sheriff’s deputies and a polygraph examiner who was a friend of one of the women’s husbands, shared a reward that would be the equivalent of $378,000 today. The husbands’ companies posted the reward, the petition said.

“The sheer hubris and impropriety of giving these men [money] is stunning,” Weger’s petition said, adding “state law prohibits prosecutors from receiving such awards.”

Hale said his client was railroaded, that he was provided an inadequate defense and that prosecutors didn’t even share their evidence with his lawyer before his trial.

“The state not only proceeded to trial against [Weger], the state also asked the jury to electrocute him,” his petition said. “This is truly unfathomable.”

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