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updated: 8/22/2011 4:32 PM

Suspect in 1976 Wheaton murder to plead guilty

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  • Michael Whitney

      Michael Whitney

  • Darlene Stack

      Darlene Stack

 

A former Wheaton man is prepared to plead guilty to the 1976 murder of a young female neighbor in exchange for a life sentence, his attorney said in court Monday.

Michael Whitney, 58, was indicted just two weeks ago in the Aug. 18, 1976, slaying of 28-year-old Darlene Stack. He entered a perfunctory plea of not guilty Monday, but only to buy time to finalize an agreement with prosecutors, Assistant DuPage County Public Defender Mike Mara said.

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"He would have pled today if I would have let him," Mara said. "This is what he wants to do."

Whitney had been scheduled for parole next year from a downstate prison where he was serving time for a 1982 murder in Carol Stream when DNA evidence connected him to the 35-year-old cold case. His ex-girlfriend subsequently confessed she had provided a false alibi for Whitney all those years.

Whitney told a judge earlier this month that he would plead guilty to Stack's murder. Mara said he expects to present the plea deal to Judge Kathryn Creswell at a Sept. 8 court appearance in Wheaton.

Whitney is accused of raping Stack and stabbing her 33 times at a boardinghouse on North Stoddard Avenue, where they both rented rooms in 1976.

In the hours afterward, prosecutors said, Whitney admitted murdering Stack to his then-girlfriend, who told authorities she saw him throw a bloody knife into DuPage River. Stack's body was found bound and gagged the following day.

The case was a mystery until Wheaton police reopened their investigation in 2005 and matched DNA from the crime scene to Whitney's DNA, which by then was on file in a law enforcement database of convicted felons.

Stack's older sister, Teri Stack, declined to comment on the expected plea deal as she left court Monday.

Also present was Wayne Wallar, whose 76-year-old father Cecil was stabbed to death by Whitney in an October 1982 home invasion and robbery in Carol Stream. He said he and other relatives were there to support the Stack family.

Whitney currently faces five counts of first-degree murder. He is being held in the county jail.

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