SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois officials granted parole on Thursday to an 80-year-old inmate sentenced to life in prison for the 1960 killings of three suburban Chicago women, whose brutalized bodies were found in a cave at a state park.
The Illinois Prisoner Review Board voted 9-4 to approve Chester Weger’s 24th request for release. He had sought parole since 1972.
Weger won’t be released for at least 90 days per a request from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. The Chicago Tribune report ed that state officials want Weger evaluated under Illinois’ sexually violent persons law.
Weger was convicted of the murder of Lillian Oetting. He also confessed to killing Oetting’s two companions, Frances Murphy and Mildred Lindquist, at Starved Rock State Park Near Utica, saying he intended to rob them. Weger later recanted the confession and since has maintained that it was coerced.
The bodies of the three Riverside women were found in March 1960. Shaw Media Illinois reports the case confounded investigators until they determined that the cord used to bind the women’s hands matched twine from a spool in the kitchen of the Starved Rock Lodge.
The 21-year-old Weger was a dishwasher at the lodge and had a juvenile record. Jurors in 1961 convicted him only in the Oetting case but declined to sentence him to death, opting for life in prison.
Weger did not appear at Thursday’s hearing. Attending in support were at least four members of his family. Those appearing in opposition were LaSalle County State’s Attorney Karen Donnelly and Diane Oetting, Lillian Oetting’s granddaughter.
For decades, Weger was denied parole in unanimous votes by state boards. Then, in 2011, shortly after his 50th anniversary behind bars, the Prisoner Review Board voted 8-5 against release and support has been growing since.