Breaking News Bar
updated: 7/1/2011 9:27 AM

Why suburban murder cases go cold

What cold case investigators really do and what they're after

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • 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

  • Kristy Wesselman

      Kristy Wesselman

  • The Teets family in 1967: clockwise from top left, Earl Jr., Gary, Earl Sr., Elizabeth.

      The Teets family in 1967: clockwise from top left, Earl Jr., Gary, Earl Sr., Elizabeth.

  • Gloria Romano, 65, and Nickolas Romano, 71, of unincorporated McHenry County near Cary, were found slain in their home in 2006.

      Gloria Romano, 65, and Nickolas Romano, 71, of unincorporated McHenry County near Cary, were found slain in their home in 2006.

  • Nickolas Romano, 71, and Gloria Romano, 65, of unincorporated McHenry County near Cary, were found slain in their home in 2006.

      Nickolas Romano, 71, and Gloria Romano, 65, of unincorporated McHenry County near Cary, were found slain in their home in 2006.

 
 

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.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

Unlike the stories that play out in 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."

Liane Jackson, spokeswoman for the Cook County sheriff's office, said time isn't the main factor in why a murder case turns cold.

Instead, she said, it's when all of the leads run dry, whether that happens in a month or in 30 years.

"A cold case isn't about age; it's about running out of information to follow and we just hit a wall," Jackson said. "Cold cases are extremely difficult to solve at that point. It's a matter of revisiting information on a regular basis and hoping fresh information or new tips develop that leads to an arrest."

It was a tip and a 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, authorities said.

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

Even with the solving of the Round Lake Beach murder, there is no shortage of cold cases under investigation across the suburbs -- some are decades old and others have details that make them particularly notorious.

One that has both is a 30-year-old possible mob hit in McHenry County that's officially listed as unsolved by authorities.

Ronald Sharff, 37, and Patricia Freeman, 30, were found shot to death on June 2, 1981, in the living room of an apartment that was built in the rear of the P.M. Pub on Route 120 in Lakemoor.

Sharff was the tavern owner and Freeman was a bartender working her first shift at the establishment.

No one has been charged in the double homicide, but a 2007 biography of mobster Frank Cullotta fingered Vegas mob enforcer Larry Neumann in the killings.

Neumann, who died in prison in 2007 while serving time for a different murder, was suspected of killing Sharff after he had an altercation with Neumann's ex-wife and threw her out of the bar.

No one has ever been charged in the crime.

Here's a list of some of the suburbs' best-known cold case murder investigations and where they stand today:

The Arlington Heights unidentified man

DNA tests confirmed the lower body of an adult white or Hispanic man found wrapped in a black garbage bag behind the Marketview Apartments in Arlington Heights in April 2010, and the badly decomposed upper body and head discovered a month later in Lions Woods near Golf and River roads in Des Plaines, belong to the same victim.

Authorities believe the body was severed just above the pelvis by a sharp instrument and speculate it was done to impede identification.

The Cook County medical examiner ruled the death a homicide caused by blunt trauma to the skull, but the manner of death remains unclear, authorities said.

Identifying marks on the victim include two tattoos of a joker, known as "Laugh Now Cry Later." A smiling joker tattoo appears on the right side of the man's pelvis and the image of a sad joker appears on the left side. Police also found the letter "C" tattooed just above the man's right knee.

Earl Teets Sr., Elizabeth Teets and Gary Teets

A wellness check at a Hoffman Estates farmhouse on Jan, 11, 1979, revealed the murder of Earl Teets Sr., 60, his wife Elizabeth, 60, and their son Gary, 35. All three had suffered gunshot wounds, along with the death of a German shepherd named Blackie.

Police suspected robbery might be a motive because Earl Teets, a heavy equipment operator who also farmed and raised cattle, had recently sold 100 black angus cattle. However, $6,000 that had been stuffed into a sock and the family's expensive figurines were not disturbed, police said.

Another son, Earl Teets Jr., said in a 2009 Daily Herald interview there was no forced entry and there doesn't appear to have been a struggle, leading him to believe the killer knew the family.

Brent Westerman

Brent Westermann's body was found by firefighters in the bathroom of his Lotus Woods home near Fox Lake 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, Lake County's 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 spoke to a man who was not Westermann. Police believe that person 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."

Yonghee Ghim

On April 5, 1994, two masked men went to a home on the 100 block of Terry Drive in Sugar Grove, shot through the rear sliding glass door and confronted the homeowners, Seyoon Ghim, 48, and his wife, Yonghee, 46.

The men continued firing, wounding Seyoon and killing Yonghee. Their 14-year-old daughter, who was in her bedroom on the phone, escaped after being shot in the leg before the assailants' weapons jammed.

Police believe the men were targeting Jeanin Ghim, a 17-year-old high school dropout who went by the street name "Chico." He was in Yorkville that night and due later in the year to testify in a drive-by shooting case out of Aurora.

Jeanin was immediately taken into protective custody and his testimony that September helped prosecute a reputed gang member to a 45-year sentence.

Kristy Wesselman

In broad daylight, on July 21, 1985, 15-year-old Kristy Wesselman was raped and murdered as she returned to her parents' Glen Ellyn home from buying a candy bar and soda at a local store.

The crime scene was a well-worn shortcut through a field in unincorporated DuPage County, not far from Wesselman's own backyard.

Authorities said the killer, who stabbed Wesselman repeatedly, left behind DNA. But attempts to identify that suspect using state and national databases of convicted felons apparently failed to yield any results.

"It's still an open sheriff's investigation," said state's attorney spokesman Paul Darrah. He declined further comment, citing the sensitive nature of ongoing investigations.

"We work all leads that we receive for this case and any that are actively developed," Domrose said.

Brian Welzien

It was the turn of the millennium, and Brian Welzien had a little too much to drink.

The 21-year-old Northern Illinois University finance major was last seen alive by his friends in the early morning hours of Jan. 1, 2000, sick and sitting on a curb outside a Chicago hotel.

The body of the former Elgin soccer player was next seen washed up on a beach near Gary, Ind., a few months later.

In 2008, two retired New York detectives investigating a string of cases said his death could be tied to more than 40 young college men who also disappeared and died in the Great Lakes region.

The detectives believe a serial killer or network of killers is targeting college guys out partying and leaving a spray-painted "smiley face" near the crime scene as their calling card.

The Romanos

Nick and Gloria Romano were found shot -- execution style -- on Nov. 20, 2006, at their home on Kilkenny Drive in the Lake Killarney neighborhood between Cary and Crystal Lake.

No arrests have been made in the slayings of Nick, 71, and Gloria, 65, despite a $100,000 cash reward offered by family members.

"We're still working that. We haven't put that away," said McHenry County Undersheriff Andrew Zinke.

Iren Bogden

Iren Bogden, a 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, Lake County Sheriff Chief of Operations David Godlewski 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.

Share this page