'A plague on our community': Former village leader recalls after effects of Brown's murders

In the weeks after the murders of seven people inside a local Brown's Chicken restaurant, Michael Cassady, the assistant village manager at the time, carried on a somber duty.

He joined Mayor Rita Mullins, Brown's Chicken President Frank Portillo and an insurance representative on trips to the homes of the victims' families, asking how they could help.

"And it was just gut wrenching," said Cassady, now the village manager in Mount Prospect. "We were there to figure out how we could help them through just this horrific, senseless tragedy. So that was the mission. We were all in to try and help them in the future."

Cassady, who lived about three blocks from the restaurant at the time, calls the murders a "shattering event" for Palatine.

Village officials knew some of the victims, particularly restaurant owners Richard and Lynn Ehlenfeldt.

"Especially as the weeks and months and years went on, we needed to continue to stay fresh on the investigation, because this was really a plague on our community," he said. "It was just omnipresent. You could really hardly celebrate a lot of good things that were happening in the community, because this was out there. And it was unsolved for many years."

Cassady had been named Palatine's village manager by the time the crime was solved.

"We were very relieved that finally we had something to run aground, a very solid and credible lead, and that allowed a lot of the dots to be connected," he said.

"It brought some closure," Cassady added. "Unfortunately, it doesn't bring closure to the families that, I'm sure, are continually haunted by this, but it allowed the criminal case to be closed and justice to be brought."

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