Possible break in case of Rolling Meadows teen who vanished in 1975
Rolling Meadows police are searching near a home northwest of Joliet for the remains of a local teenager who went missing more than 40 years ago after leaving his home to visit a friend.
Police said their investigation into the 1975 disappearance of Michael Mansfield led detectives to a residence on Barber Lane in unincorporated Will County, where they are looking for remains or other evidence of his whereabouts.
Rolling Meadows police said they are conducting the search with the Cook County Major Case Assistance Team and with the logistical assistance of the Will County sheriff's office.
The search comes more than five years after Mansfield's one-time college roommate gave a deathbed confession to killing the Rolling Meadows teen. Russell Smrekar, who hailed from the Joliet area, was serving a 300-year prison sentence for a 1976 double-murder in October 2011 when he told investigators he killed Mansfield.
Smrekar, 56, died of a terminal illness a short time later at the downstate Menard Correctional Center.
Mansfield was a 19-year-old college student when he vanished on New Year's Eve 1975 after leaving home to visit a friend in Arlington Heights.
Authorities long suspected Smrekar in the disappearance. The two were fellow students at Lincoln College, about 25 miles northeast of Springfield, and Mansfield was scheduled to testify against his ex-roommate in a theft case just six days after going missing.
Smrekar was suspected of stealing record albums from a girl's dorm room. The charges were dismissed after Mansfield vanished.
Smrekar later was convicted of killing a man and his pregnant wife a year later in Lincoln. The man, Jay Fry, 24, was scheduled to testify against Smrekar in an separate theft case -- this one alleging he stole steaks from Kroger.