Aurora mayor: 'Ripper Crew' killer not welcome here, we question Wayside Cross' model
Convicted murderer Thomas Kokoraleis should find someplace to live besides Aurora, Mayor Richard Irvin said Tuesday.
"When the mission of an organization conflicts with the mission of the city, the city must always win out," Irvin said, after Wayside Cross Mission accepted Kokoraleis in one of its rehabilitation programs.
Speaking at his biweekly news conference, Irvin said it isn't his job to figure out where Kokoraleis, who was released Friday after 35 years in prison, should live. He just doesn't want the member of the infamous "Ripper Crew" in his city.
"Now my concern is the citizens of Aurora," said the mayor, who has worked as a criminal defense lawyer. "He is not my concern as to where he will go or other options."
Irvin said he has recommended Wayside Cross Mission to some of his clients and praised the work the group does with people battling substance abuse or who are sex offenders.
But he was "blindsided" by news Saturday that Wayside had accepted Kokoraleis.
The man was convicted in 1982 of the rape and murder of Lorraine "Lorry" Borowski of Elmhurst. The conviction was overturned. Kokoraleis then pleaded guilty to the murder charge, and was sentenced to 70 years in prison.
He received day-for-day credit for good behavior, which is why he was released Friday.
He is not on parole. The only restriction on him is that he has to register with the police where he lives, because he is on the state's sex offender registry. He registered Saturday.
The Ripper Crew included his brother, Andrew, who was executed in 1999, and two other men who murdered at least 17 women in the early 1980s. One was sentenced to death, but that sentence was commuted to a life sentence by Gov. George Ryan. The fourth man, who was not charged with murder, has a projected discharge date of 2042.
Irvin said city officials have been meeting over the past few months with Wayside Cross officials about its "model and how it will affect the direction downtown Aurora is going in."
Wayside is at 215 E. New York St. The city is trying to encourage redevelopment throughout downtown that would include residences, shops, offices and restaurants.
Two residents attended Irvin's press briefing, including a woman who owns a photography studio a door down from Wayside. She said she and her female clients are afraid and wanted to know if the city would have extra police patrols.
The mayor said he is meeting with police Wednesday. He also recommended residents and business owners continue to contact Wayside Cross about their concerns.
Resident Ron Ellison said he has donated to Wayside and shopped at its thrift store, but he won't donate "one more penny." He said he spoke with Wayside officials Tuesday about his concerns but was told turning Kokoraleis away would be "un-Christian."
Wayside Executive Director James Lukose said this week the group accepted Kokoraleis because "we are mandated by our Lord Jesus Christ to love our neighbors. According to Luke 16, anyone in a genuine need is a neighbor."
"I don't want him living in this city. I don't even want him living in this state," Ellison told the mayor.
Because Kokoraleis is not on parole, he is not supervised by the state department of corrections, unlike other parolees who live in Aurora.
Irvin said the city has asked the Kane County state's attorney's office to explore options for dealing with Kokoraleis. Illinois has a law where certain people who present an ongoing risk of being sexually violent can be committed to a state mental health hospital. Kokoraleis is on the state's sex offender registry because the murder was deemed to be sexual.