A year without answers: Aurora man's slaying in Naperville remains unsolved

A year after Matthew Lange was shot to death in his car while waiting for his 4-year-old son to get out of school, police are still hoping for leads and his family is wondering whether they'll ever see justice.

Lange's murder is the first unsolved killing in Naperville since 1996.

Lange, a 37-year-old assistant professor at Lewis University in Romeoville, was shot more than once the evening of Jan. 27, 2017, while waiting in the parking lot of Scullen Middle School on Naperville's south side. His son was attending Helena Modjeska Polish School, which rents space at Scullen for Friday classes.

David Lange said his son's ex-wife had signed the boy up for the classes and Matthew picked his child up there every other Friday. He and his wife divorced two years earlier.

Naperville Deputy Police Chief Jason Arres said police still need the public's help as they work "all across Chicagoland" to develop new leads. There are always at least two cops assigned to the case.

Solving a year-old case becomes more difficult with each passing day, Arres said.

"If we have witnesses or people with information, more than likely they would have come forward. But if somebody hasn't yet, for whatever reason, the challenge becomes: 'What do they remember and how accurate is their recollection?'" Arres said.

"From an evidence standpoint, we collected what we could that night and we feel pretty good about it. If there is evidence out there that we haven't found or gotten our hands on yet, it's possible the prints or DNA we need may no longer be present."

But Arres said the most important piece of evidence likely lies in the conscience of whoever shot Lange.

"The person who did this, knows they did it. And if anyone else was involved, they know it, too, so that piece isn't going away," Arres said. "Usually someone talks to someone. Loose lips literally do sink ships, but in this case it hasn't come to our attention that there's any loose lips out there talking about it."

Matthew Lange

While police continue to look for his killer, Matthew's family continues to grieve.

Lange's parents, David and Sandy Lange of Aurora, say they appreciate the efforts of the investigators and their regular contact with the family. But they're upset the case remains unsolved.

"Some of our frustration is based around watching those TV shows where things are wrapped up in an hour. It just takes so long," David Lange said.

"Matthew's murder has left a big void in our hearts and in our family. I don't know how else to express it. It's difficult every day. I think about him every day," he said. "Reminiscing and those kind of happy thoughts are usually OK, but occasionally random things that remind you of him will rush over you and it's hard to control those things."

David Lange said his son was an easygoing man and devoted father who had recently earned his doctoral degree and was named director of Lewis University's Accelerated Psychology Program. He taught undergraduate courses, including personality and adult development.

"Things were just going so well," David Lange said. "The sky appeared to be the limit one day and we were devastated the next."

Lange said he and his wife see their grandson, now 5, every other weekend and say he is "doing really well, given the situation."

"He's great when he comes to see us. He plays and he'll reminisce, too. We'll do something and he'll say, 'I remember when Daddy and I used to do this,'" Lange said. "But he's fine. He's just happy to be with us and play."

As for the anniversary, the Langes say they plan to attend a memorial service on Saturday that is being planned by family friends.

"We weren't sure what to do for this. We certainly don't want folks to forget and we want the word back out in the community to make sure he's still on people's minds," David Lange said. "Hopefully someone will come forward eventually, We'd like to see the person responsible brought to justice."

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Saturday memorial

Friends and family are gathering at noon Saturday at Scullen Middle School, 2815 Mistflower Lane in Naperville, to remember Matthew Lange.

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