Convicted killer’s lawyer says DNA test could change everything, Monkeypox deemed public health emergency and more in your Chicago news roundup

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Chester Weger re-enacted the killings of three west suburban women in Starved Rock State Park on Nov. 17, 1960, the day he confessed. A LaSalle County jury sentenced him to life in prison for killing one of the women. He was paroled on Thursday.

Chester Weger re-enacted the killings of three west suburban women in Starved Rock State Park on Nov. 17, 1960, the day he confessed.

AP file photo

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

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Afternoon Edition
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Top story

Convicted Starved Rock killer’s lawyer: DNA test casts doubt on Chester Weger’s conviction

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 yesterday.

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.

Yesterday, Weger’s attorney Andrew Hale told Jansz that 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.

Frank Mainhas more on the latest developments in Weger’s case here.

More news you need

  1. Police have released photos of a car used in the murder of 22-year-old Dyanla Rainey outside her home in Maywood last month. The 2003 Buick Regal with gray trim and tinted windows was seen approaching Rainey’s driveway on July 24 before someone opened fire and struck her, police said.
  2. A teenager who was hospitalized after being beaten by Oak Lawn police during an arrest last week will be released into his parents’ custody following an overnight stay in juvenile detention. Oak Lawn police sought charges for weapons, drugs and resisting arrest, but prosecutors requested a three-week delay to decide how to proceed.
  3. Gov. J.B. Pritzker yesterday declared monkeypox a public health emergency and the state of Illinois a disaster area after 520 cases of the viral disease were confirmed — giving Illinois the third-highest case count in the nation. The proclamation will allow state agencies to better coordinate with each other and the federal government.
  4. Mount Carmel High School will remain an all-boys school, school leaders announced today. The news comes after school leaders said they were considering admitting girls as a way to address “elusive growth” for single-gender Catholic schools.
  5. Messages of support are pouring in for JoJo, a beloved silverback gorilla who died Sunday at Brookfield Zoo. JoJo, 42, sired five offspring to help survival of the endangered western lowland gorilla species.
  6. Mayor Lori Lightfoot yesterday defended her plan to turn Chicago’s most iconic roadways into a showcase for NASCAR’s first-ever street course race. The mayor acknowledged DuSable Lake Shore Drive would be “shut down for a certain period of time,” but she argued it would be worth it to showcase Chicago to the world for a first-of-its-kind race.
  7. Rainbow Cone, the five-flavored Beverly favorite that has expanded in the Chicago area, now aspires to locations in other states. In a partnership with the family that owns the Buona Beef chain, Rainbow Cone is looking for franchisees to bring the colorful dessert to other states in the Midwest and the South.
  8. Public officials and community members celebrated the opening of the Discover Financial Services call center in Chatham yesterday in a shuttered Target. The investment by Discovery highlights a calling retiring U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush and Mayor Lightfoot agreed other corporations should heed: “Come to the South Side.”
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A bright one

A look back at Lollapalooza 2022

Last week, as thousands of music fans descended on the downtown area for another iteration of Lollapalooza, I was there covering the first two days of the festival for the Sun-Times. It was a busy — but rewarding —experience that gave me a chance to see some great artists.

Now that the dust has settled the park’s getting put back together, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite sets that I saw last Thursday and Friday.

Jazmine Sullivan

Philadelphia R&B talent Jazmine Sullivan delivered an absolutely stellar set on Thursday that wove in her latest releases, along with early-career fan favorites and a few covers. Complete with powerhouse vocal performances, skillful crowd participation, monologues and tasteful choreography, it was a consummate set from a true professional.

Set highlights included “Put It Down” from last year’s Grammy-winning “Heaux Tales,” “Let it Burn,” from her 2015 album “Reality Show,” and last year’s single, “Tragic.” A rousing cover of Fuggees’ “Killing Me Softly” also sent the crowd into a full-throated singalong.

Jazmine Sullivan performs on day one of Lollapalooza in Grant Park, Thursday evening, July 28, 2022.

Jazmine Sullivan performs on day one of Lollapalooza in Grant Park last Thursday.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Sampa the Great

As festivalgoers slowly streamed into Lollapalooza on Thursday afternoon, rapper Sampa the Great stepped onto the Coinbase Stage with a burst of energy. The Zambia-born, Melbourne, Australia-based artist took her early — and arguably unenviable — timeslot in stride, electing to blaze through her opening number, “Energy,” with her band helping her set a high-energy tone for the weekend ahead.

It was her Lollapalooza debut and Sampa and her band worked as a tight unit emanating electricity as they jammed through a setlist that spanned her nearly seven-year career. The rapper commanded the stage, often putting the mic on its stand to use both of her hands for extra emphasis, making the spoken-word nature of some of her verses hit even harder.

Dua Lipa

When Dua Lipa stepped onto the T-Mobile Stage Friday to begin her headlining set, thousands of Lollapalooza fans had already seized just about every square inch of Grant Park perceivable, hoping to catch a glimpse of the English superstar.

Clad in a glistening, 1970s-glamour jumpsuit, Lipa kicked things off with “Physical,” from her 2020 album “Future Nostalgia” — a record filled with stylistic homages to 1970s disco, with a dash of 1980s electronic pop.

Lipa and her four-piece band, four background singers and several dancers welcomed the massive crowd to her “Future Nostalgia” experience amid an air of celebration, as fans sang and danced along to songs they’ve gotten to know well by now. It was a show that was heavy on the nostalgia, with Lipa working hard to sing and deliver disco-influenced choreography that turned the park into a club.

You can find my full reviews, reviews from the rest of the weekend, and photo galleries of all four days here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What makes someone a real Chicagoan?

Send us an email at newsletters@suntimes.com and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: Where’s your favorite place to look at flowers in the Chicago area?

Here’s what some of you said…

“The Chicago Botanic Gardens is my happy place.” —Johnna PK

“Garfield Park Conservatory where I spent many hours with my beloved Dad.” —Bernadette Eva Tilger

“Sunflowers in northwest Illinois — McHenry, Jo Davies, Carroll counties.” — Evelyn Bemis Dubbs

“The Morton Arboretum.” —Beverly Bartlett Calvert

“Downtown. They have such pretty flowers planted all over the place.” —Renee Haddon Verone

“Lincoln Park Conservatory.” —Fran Poniatowski

“Millennial Park. They are in their natural state of beauty.” —Judy Dziedzic Mascolino

“In the Forest Preserves for wildflowers.” —Mike Rogan

“Rose Gardens near Buckingham Fountain and the flower beds.” —Melanie O’Brien

“The prairie restoration area on South DLSD.” —Alexei Gaidamak

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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