Two years later, murder of Barrington Hills construction magnate remains a mystery

 
Updated 9/21/2018 9:22 AM
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  • Nearly two years after Barrington Hills resident James Gerage was found beaten to death in this torched vehicle in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, his killing remains a mystery. Chicago police say the murder remains an open investigation.

    Nearly two years after Barrington Hills resident James Gerage was found beaten to death in this torched vehicle in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, his killing remains a mystery. Chicago police say the murder remains an open investigation. Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago

It's been almost two years since the badly beaten body of a Barrington Hills construction magnate was found dead in a torched vehicle abandoned in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood. We don't seem any closer to knowing who is responsible or why.

James D. Gerage, 43, was co-owner of the powerhouse Omega Demolition Corp. The Elgin-based company is one of the largest demolition firms in the Midwest, receiving numerous substantial contracts over the years to do work for the Illinois tollway, O'Hare and Midway airports, McCormick Place and the Allstate Arena in Rosemont.

On Sept. 23, 2016, Gerage was found dead in the back seat of a burning vehicle on the 600 block of West 21st Street, a mostly vacant block between the Chicago River and the Dan Ryan Expressway.

About a month later, the Cook County medical examiner's office ruled the death a homicide, saying Gerage died from "multiple injuries due to assault" before the company-owned vehicle was set ablaze.

The body of Barrington Hills construction boss James Gerage was found in the back seat of a burned vehicle abandoned along this mostly vacant block in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood. Gerage, 43, had been beaten to death before the vehicle was set on fire, authorities said.
The body of Barrington Hills construction boss James Gerage was found in the back seat of a burned vehicle abandoned along this mostly vacant block in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood. Gerage, 43, had been beaten to death before the vehicle was set on fire, authorities said. - Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago

The killing has remained unsolved. We checked in this week with Chicago police to see where things stand.

"It's still an open investigation," officer Michelle Tannehill told us, adding that she could not provide additional details because of the pending investigation.

We also put in an interview request to Chuck Gerage, James' brother and business partner, but he did not respond.

Aurora cops 'Bear' down

The Aurora Police Department Honor Guard presented the colors before the Chicago Bears took on the Seattle Seahawks on "Monday Night Football" this week. Because the Bears won, the Aurora PD now considers itself to be the team's good-luck charm, according to a post on its Facebook page -- which makes us wonder if they're available for the Dec. 16 rematch with the Packers.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions passed through the suburbs this week when he spoke to a group of police and law enforcement officials at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions passed through the suburbs this week when he spoke to a group of police and law enforcement officials at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan. - Courtesy of the Department of Justice
Sessions in the suburbs

Embattled -- at least when it comes to relations with his boss -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions passed through the suburbs Wednesday, speaking to dozens of police officers during the VALOR Survive and Thrive Conference at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan.

The press and public were excluded, but in a transcript later released by the Department of Justice, Sessions praised local law enforcement officers -- calling out Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim and Waukegan Police Chief Wayne Walles by name -- and blamed inner-city violence in Chicago on the city's politicians.

"Colossal mistakes have been made by politicians and leaders that have had particular catastrophic consequences for the people of cities like Chicago, Baltimore and St. Louis," Sessions said.

What mistakes? Sessions assailed a 2016 deal between Chicago and the ACLU that ended the police department's "stop and frisk" practice. That involved temporarily detaining pedestrians and patting down their clothing in search of weapons or other contraband.

"After the consent decree became effective on Jan. 1, 2016, policing went down, crime went up -- and as a result, hundreds of Chicagoans are now dead -- almost all of them African-American or Latino," Sessions said.

Not everyone shares his conclusions. Politifact.com examined the claim earlier this year and ruled it "Mostly false."

"There is some element of truth in the statement made by Sessions, but it also ignores critical facts that would give a different impression," the site wrote.

If you're interested in reading Sessions' full remarks, visit justice.gov/briefing-room.

Play ball

Hoffman Estates police will be out to defend their title Saturday when they take on members of the village's fire department in the sixth annual Shootz & Ladderz Softball Fundraiser.

Organized by the Hoffman Estates Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association, the game raises money to buy art therapy supplies for the Children's Advocacy Center of North and Northwest Cook County. The center provides care and services to children who've suffered physical or sexual abuse.

First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Cannon Crossings, 1675 Nicholson Drive in Hoffman Estates. There will be a 50/50 raffle and food and beverages for sale. For more information, contact Leigh at (847) 490-0817 or lab316@att.net.

You might think you're getting a great deal on a used van, but federal authorities say car shoppers should be on the lookout for vehicles damaged by Hurricane Florence hitting the market.
You might think you're getting a great deal on a used van, but federal authorities say car shoppers should be on the lookout for vehicles damaged by Hurricane Florence hitting the market. - Associated Press
Buyer, beware

It's a good time to be extra cautious if you're looking for a deal on a used car.

Federal officials say flood-damaged vehicles from areas ravaged by Hurricane Florence might soon be hitting the market.

The Office of Justice Programs' Bureau of Justice Assistance suggests using the National Motor Vehicle Title Information Service to look up vehicle history. The list of approved report providers can be found at vehiclehistory.gov. Costs range from $3 to $13 per report.

Authorities say that after previous hurricanes, truckloads of flooded vehicles have been taken to other states, dried out, cleaned and resold to unsuspecting buyers.

Lessons from Vegas, Orlando

Cops, firefighters, paramedics, medical personnel, public-safety employees and others will get an inside perspective on the Pulse nightclub and Las Vegas music festival mass shootings at a free workshop Oct. 30 at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.

"What Was Learned From Orlando and Las Vegas" is being hosted by the college's Homeland Security Training Institute. The speakers include Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Capt. Nick Farese and Orlando Police Lt. Douglas Goerke.

The workshop is free. Register at cod.edu.

McHenry County State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally on Saturday was awarded Mothers Against Drunk Driving's Heroes Award.
McHenry County State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally on Saturday was awarded Mothers Against Drunk Driving's Heroes Award.
MADD's man in McHenry

Congrats to McHenry County State's Attorney Patrick Kenneally, who on Saturday received the 2018 Mothers Against Drunk Driving Heroes Award for his efforts to combat drunken drivers.

Among Kenneally's initiatives highlighted by MADD is the state's attorney office's No Refusal Policy, which helps police get a warrant to take blood from a DUI suspect who refuses breath testing.

Besides prosecuting all felony DUI cases in McHenry County, Kenneally's office has been monitoring the misdemeanor cases handled by municipal attorneys to ensure they are not being unnecessarily pleaded to a reduced charge or dismissed. His office also has conducted dozens of DUI training events for law enforcement officers.

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