CHICAGO, IL — With September 30, 2017, looming, survivors and loved ones of victims who fell prey to Chicago’s “Ripper Crew” are noticeably up in arms. Their outrage and concern seems easy to understand.
For on that day, 57-year-old Thomas Kokoraleis — one of the self-styled Satanic murder cult’s rapist-murderer-cannibal “Rippers” — is scheduled to walk free from the Illinois River Correctional Facility.
Kokoraleis will have served half of a 70-year sentence for the abduction, rape, and murder of Lorraine “Lorry” Borowski, 21, in May 1982 — but that’s just the one nightmarish slaughter the cops could properly pin on him.
Lorry Borowoski, in fact, was only one of the 20 women the Ripper Crew is suspected of kidnapping, torturing, and sexually violating before killing them and eating their flesh.
Throughout 1981 and ’82, the Ripper Crew aka The Chicago Rippers hunted single female victims on streets of the city and its nearby suburbs, typically targeting sex workers but also grabbing anyone who looked vulnerable. More than once, the Rippers even snatched victims from busy public thoroughfares in broad daylight.
Led by electrician and handyman Robin Gecht, the Rippers consisted of his pal Edward Spreitzer and youthful brothers Andrew and Thomas Kokoraleis, all of whom worked for Gecht’s contracting business. Each of these burgeoning sickos also shared a decidedly unhealthy interest in the occult.
In a separate, chilling connection, Gecht had actually done electrical work for notorious serial slayer John Wayne Gacy at the peak of that monster’s murder run.
Fancying themselves devil worshipers, the Rippers assembled in a makeshift temple Gecht deemed “The Satanic Chapel,” a back bedroom painted with six upside-down crosses in the home their low priest shared with his wife and three children. Yes, Gecht had a wife and three children throughout all this.
The Rippers would then pile into a red panel van and cruise for human targets. While victims’ ages varied, Gecht insisted their prey possess large breasts — a feature that would figure sickeningly into the Crew’s crimes.
Upon pulling up to a subject, the Rippers would yank her into the van and beat, rape, and stab her into horrific submission. The attacks concluded, hours later, with these sadists cutting off at least one of the woman’s breasts with a wire garrotte while she remained alive. After that, they’d dispose of the bodies — except for the breasts.
The Ripper Crew retreated from each murder back to Gecht’s bedroom temple. Once there, Gecht read aloud from The Satanic Bible while the other Rippers masturbated into the dismembered breast. Gecht would then cut the breast into pieces, which they all ate as part of a cannibalistic communion ceremony.
Gecht subsequently kept what remained of the breast as a trophy, either in a box or nailed to the wall of the Satanic Chapel.
As mutilated bodies with missing breasts turned up in alleys or dumpsters, Chicago authorities knew they were dealing with a serial killer or killers, and this was the calling card.
Finally, the case broke on December 6, 1982, after Beverly Washington, a teenage streetwalker, fell into the Rippers’ grasp and underwent their unfathomable atrocities. Incredibly, Washington survived.
Believing her to be dead, the Crew ditched Washington, naked and with her left breast missing, near a railroad track. A passerby discovered the teen and called for help. From the hospital, Washington told the police about her ordeal.
Beverly Washington’s description of a red van with tinted windows and feathers dangling from the rearview mirror led investigators to Robin Gecht. The Ripper Crew was caught.Thomas Kokoraleis caved first. Then 22, he detailed the Ripper Crew’s crimes to the cops. His brother Andrew and Edward Speitzer spilled their guts thereafter.
Robin Gecht, however, maintained his innocence and, as a result of a lack of evidence, police initially had to cut him loose. Ultimately, though, Gecht copped to torturing Beverly Washington and got 120 years. He’s eligible for parole in 2042, a date he likely won’t live to see.
Andrew Kokoraleis was executed by lethal injection in 1999, the final prisoner to go that way before Illinois abolished capital punishment. Edward Spreitz also faced the death penalty, but in 2011, his sentence was commuted to life in prison.
Now the public faces the prospect of a parole board springing Thomas Kokoraleis.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin are attempting to block Kokoraleis’s potential release by getting him ruled a “sexually violent person” in accordance with a 1998 civil commitment law. If a judge signs off on the prosecutors’ efforts, what remains of the Ripper Crew would (and many say should) potentially stay locked up for their rest of their lives.
Main photos: From left — Andrew Kokoraleis, Robin Gecht, Thomas Kokoraleis and Edward Spreitzer mug shots in 1982 [Chicago Police Department]