The new search for Carol's killer: 47 years later, podcast investigates college student's slaying

The night of Dec. 22, 1975, Carol Rofstad said goodbye to her best friend after an evening out and began walking to the sorority house where she lived on the Illinois State University campus in Normal.

She would never make it home.

The 21-year-old Elk Grove Village resident was found about 12 hours later just outside the sorority house, badly beaten, skull broken and left for dead. A bloody railroad tie sat nearby.

On Christmas Eve, Carol was pronounced dead.

Forty-seven years later, her killer has never been identified. But now, thanks in part to a new true-crime podcast re-examining the decadeslong cold case, Carol's family believes she could finally get justice.

“We're hoping we can come up with something,” said Jim Kuhn of Elk Grove Village, who married Carol's youngest sister in 1981.

The nine-episode podcast "Carol's Last Christmas" details a new investigation into the 1975 murder of Carol Rofstad, a 21-year-old Elk Grove Village resident who was slain while attending Illinois State University in Normal. Courtesy of Genuine Human Productions

The podcast “Carol's Last Christmas” dropped its first of nine weekly episodes on Dec. 15, with episode two released Thursday. It's available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and numerous other platforms.

It's the product of two years of work by freelance journalist Ally Daskalopoulos, former Chicago police detective and cold case expert George Seibel, and Demetria Kalodimos, a Tennessee-based journalist and Daskalopoulos' aunt.

Daskalopoulos told us this week she first dove into Carol's case as an assignment for an investigative journalism class at DePaul University. Having previously attended Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington and working at the McClean County state's attorney's office there, Daskalopoulos said Carol's killing hit home.

“She was murdered less than two miles from my campus,” she said. “She was a sorority girl, and I was in a sorority. I developed a personal connection to the case.”

She soon linked up with Seibel, who had been looking into Carol's case for two decades. Numerous Freedom of Information Act requests, countless hours combing through reports, and several interviews with Carol's family, her sorority sisters and Normal police later, Daskalopoulos' class assignment had morphed into a two-year investigation that launched the podcast.

“I just couldn't let it go,” said Daskalopoulos, who also works as a legal assistant for the DuPage County public defender.

'We're not going to stop'

Titled “Mr. Green Jeans,” the podcast's first episode tells listeners about Carol and describes how, just 17 months before her murder, she'd been attacked in her room at the sorority house, suffering a broken nose. It was similar to another recent attack on a student at Illinois Wesleyan. Neither case was solved.

Episode two, “Cold Case Heat,” introduces listeners to Seibel, his many years of searching for Carol's killer and his track record as a homicide investigator.

Police released this sketch of a possible suspect in the killing of Carol Rofstad. But there are serious questions about the witness who described the suspect, according to the podcast "Carol's Last Christmas." Courtesy of Genuine Human Productions

Future episodes will dive into how an initial police sketch of a suspect may have sent the investigation down the wrong path, a mentally ill man's 1977 confession that raised doubts with prosecutors and ultimately was recanted, and the botched handling of the suspected murder weapon.

Daskalopoulos said one of the biggest challenges in their investigation has been the Normal police, who have been reluctant to cooperate or accept assistance.

“They were very resistant to this, and they did not want to help at all. And I was just not anticipating that level of resistance,” she said, adding that she's hopeful that changes with the podcast's release.

While their investigation has not led to any arrests or the public identification of a suspect, Daskalopoulos said she believes they're closer than when they began.

“We talk about a suspect that we have in mind, and that George believes is our prime suspect, and we use the term 'our suspect' because that's from our investigation and not from the Normal police investigation,” she said. “I think we're a step closer, but we're nowhere near where we want to be”

Kuhn is more certain that they've identified the killer and that person is still alive.

“I'm 99.9% sure I know who did it,” he said.

And while the podcast has wrapped, the investigation has not. Daskalopoulos and her team are hoping the podcast encourages people who may have information about the case to come forward and share what they know. Tips can be sent online

“Ultimately, we want to see the case solved, and we want to get some closure for Carol's family, so we're not going to stop,” Daskalopoulos said.

McHenry County sheriff's police put out a community alert this week about this 10-inch-tall menace breaking into homes and wreaking havoc on holiday decorations. Courtesy of the McHenry County Sheriff's Office

Elf in the slammer?

A delinquent was on the loose in McHenry County this week, breaking into homes and smashing ornaments, unplugging Christmas lights, ripping open presents and eating candy and cookies.

A real-life Grinch? A holiday-hating hoodlum?

Nah, just a playful tribute to the season played out on the McHenry County sheriff's Facebook page. Starting with a “Community Alert” warning of a 10-inch-tall menace wreaking havoc across the county - including home surveillance images of the little vandal in action, of course - the Facebook entries detail suspect Buddy's capture, confession, night in the county jail and eventual release.

So what was behind Buddy's holiday crime spree?

“Upset at the impending end of the Christmas season, Buddy wanted to do his part to slow down the holidays,” one post explains. “By opening presents, eating cookies, and taking down Christmas decorations, Buddy thought maybe he could delay Santa's arrival and the end of Christmas.”

After Buddy's night in lockup, the sheriff's office agreed to drop charges Wednesday and release him to the custody of Santa.

“Santa Claus has promised to fix any damages and reimburse all victims for the heinous acts committed by Buddy,” a post reads.

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