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updated: 6/6/2011 12:02 PM

Lake County Sheriff continues working cold cases

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  • Authorities said 70-year-old Robert Bostic, upper left, almost got away with murder. It took 28 years to arrest Bostic on charges he killed Carlton Richmond in Round Lake Beach, but Lake County Sheriff's police say they got the right man, allowing them to close one of their cold cases.

      Authorities said 70-year-old Robert Bostic, upper left, almost got away with murder. It took 28 years to arrest Bostic on charges he killed Carlton Richmond in Round Lake Beach, but Lake County Sheriff's police say they got the right man, allowing them to close one of their cold cases.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer


Authorities said 70-year-old Robert Bostic almost got away with murder.

It took 28 years to arrest Bostic on charges he killed Carlton Richmond in 1982, but police say they got the right man after witnesses to the long-forgotten case finally gave them the evidence they needed.

Unlike television dramas, police generally have an idea of who the prime suspect is, and only rarely does new information crack open a cold case murder, Lake County Undersheriff Chuck Fagan said.

"That's always the way it is," Fagan said. "It usually requires witnesses coming forward years later, or the killer confessing."

And, also unlike what you see on TV, there isn't a single vault in the sheriff's headquarters containing stacks of old, unsolved murder cases, Lake County Sheriff Chief of Operations David Godlewski said.

Instead, each sheriff's investigator is assigned a cold case murder file to keep tabs on and follow any leads that may come in, he said.

"I've heard of departments that have a file cabinet or something where old cases are stored," Godlewski said. "We just found that by giving each person one, the file stays fresh and it's reviewed quite often."

It was the review of a cold case by Round Lake Beach Police investigators that led to Bostic's arrest in January.

Investigators reinterviewed some witnesses, and four who originally refused to cooperate identified Bostic as Richmond's killer.

Police say Bostic, of Kingston, Tenn., shot Richmond in a garage in the 800 block of Oakwood Drive during a motorcycle club party. He was arrested in Tennessee, and today is in the Lake County jail on $1.5 million bond. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 60 years in prison.

Most municipalities, like Round Lake Beach, have one or two cold cases still under review. With Bostic's arrest, Lake County Sheriff's officials now have five cold case murders dating back to 1983. Here's where those stand:

•Brent Westermann: His body was found by firefighters in the bathroom of his Lotus Woods home on June 14, 1983. He died of a gunshot wound to the head, and the home had been torched.

What made the events even more peculiar, Fagan said, was the 29-year-old employee of the Zion nuclear power plant had called his girlfriend hours before the fire and told her he was canceling their date so he could run away with a married woman.

The girlfriend, thinking it was a joke from the fun-loving Westermann, called back and a man who was not Westermann answered the phone.

Police believe the voice was Westermann's killer, and Westermann was forced to make the earlier call.

Fagan, who served on the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, said investigators were close to cracking the case about 14 years ago, but leads have since dried up.

"This was always a strange case, and again, we have always had a primary suspect, but we just never had the evidence to bring charges against him," he said. "But, we are still working the case. We'll never give up."

•Iren Bogden: The 23-year-old Chicago Heights woman was found dead four years ago. Police think they have a primary suspect, but the real question is whether there should be a suspect at all, Godlweski said.

Bogden's body was found in a Beach Park field in May 2007, but the skeletal remains did not show any signs of trauma.

"There were no signs on the body to indicate any type of blunt force trauma or that she was murdered," Godlewski said. "So, right now, the case is still listed as a questionable death."

However, questions remain on why Bogden, a known prostitute, was never reported missing, and why her body would show up so far from her South suburban home.

"There are some allegations lingering out there that she was hanging around some very violent individuals," Godlewski said.

•Julie Konkol: Police believe Konkol was killed near Milwaukee, then driven to the now-closed Senters Truck Stop at Russell Road and old Route 41, Fagan said.

Hers was one of "a couple of other bodies" discovered along I-94 in 1996, he said, adding the sheriff's office spoke with officials in Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee regarding similar cases.

"That's what happens a lot in Lake County," Fagan said. "People drive here and dump the body, then head back to Chicago or Milwaukee or wherever they came from."

The twist in the Konkol story was it involved a group of transients known as "wheel washers" -- nomads who traveled from cold weather to warm weather, earning a living washing wheels on semi-trucks.

"She and her boyfriend would travel between Minnesota and Florida between the winter and summer months, earning a living washing wheels on semis," he said. "Up the I-94 corridor, there were a number of victims and a lot of similarities injury-wise that were comparable to Konkol."

Like the other cold cases in Lake County, her blood and DNA information has been entered into a national database to see if her homicide links to other similar cases, he said.

•Kim Garland: Her body, in a large plastic bag, was discovered in 1996 on Old Mill Creek Road in unincorporated Newport Township, Godlewski said.

The woman, who was last known living in the south Waukegan or North Chicago area, was found by a person walking a dog in the area.

"It was obvious someone had killed her, then dumped her body there," he said. "Like the rest, we had persons of interest in the case, but a lack of physical evidence to prosecute anyone."

What made the case so difficult was the offenders attempted to remove as much physical evidence from the woman as possible, he added.

"I can't get into detail because, even though it's a cold case, it's still under investigation," Godlewski said. "But, we had enough physical evidence to track it as far as we could."

•Sandra Hill: The Waukegan woman's body was discovered near a tree at the bottom of a ravine off Ganster Avenue and Sheridan Road in March 1990.

It was found by a property owner who was clearing the land for sale, officials said. The body was shoved inside five garbage bags.

Following an autopsy, sheriff's investigators discovered Hill's name and that she was reported missing in November 1988. It is presumed she was killed and dumped in the ravine.

Several interviews were conducted, but police said the case went cold and no one was ever charged.