The father of an Illinois State Police officer mowed down during a high speed police chase 25 years ago in Itasca, is imploring Gov. Pat Quinn to sign a bill requiring first-degree murderers to register their whereabouts with local law enforcement for 10 years after their release.
The state Senate unanimously approved the bill in May.
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In his letter to the governor, Bill Kugelman, whose son John Kugelman was killed while on duty, said the bill is needed to "not only keep track of these predators, but to have them reminded, for every day of their lives, what they had done."
"John is but one of many fallen (law enforcement officers) whose killers are treated better than those left behind to grieve their loss for the rest of their lives," Kugelman wrote in his letter dated July 1. "And then to take in account the ordinary citizens who have lost loved ones to murderers, the injustice is multiplied over & over."
John Kugelman had been a member of the Illinois State Police for about 3½ years when he was killed during a high-speed police chase in November 1986. David Melind, who was 17 at the time, led police on a high-speed chase through Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg and Elk Grove Village before he mowed down John Kugelman. The state police officer had stepped onto the shoulder of Route 53 near Irving Park Road in an attempt to stop the chase. Melind, formerly of Elk Grove Village, had taken off when police attempted to pull him over for speeding. Melind did not take his foot off the accelerator when he ran Kugelman over, according to court testimony.
"Johnny did what they teach you in school: he had a roadblock set up and he pointed his weapon at the vehicle," said Bill Kugelman, a retired Chicago Fire Department battalion chief. "They pointed their car at him."
Melind, who was found guilty in 1997 of murder and sentenced to 32 years in prison, was released in 2002. Bill Kugelman had worked for years to prevent the early release of his son's killer, at one time presenting a petition of 55,000 signatures opposing clemency.
"This year is the 25th anniversary and the bill came up at the right time," said Bill Kugelman, who was also instrumental in implementing the state's arsonist registry. "It's time to get this out and make this guy register. Why should he live peacefully somewhere?"
Sponsored by state Rep. Dennis Reboletti, a Republican from Elmhurst, the bill is known as "Andrea's Law." Andrea Will was an Eastern Illinois University student murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1998. He was released from prison after serving half of his 24-year sentence. If approved by Gov. Quinn, it is estimated between 400 and 500 first-degree murderers currently on parole would have to register with the state police. The Internet database would include mug shots and addresses, similar to the state's sex offender registry.