Authorities say a man convicted of murder as a suspected member of the notorious "Ripper Crew" that killed as many as 20 Chicago-area women in the 1980s has been released from prison.
An alert from Illinois' victim notification system was issued Friday saying 58-year-old Thomas Kokoraleis had been discharged from the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Kokoraleis was initially sentenced to life in prison for the 1982 slaying of 21-year-old Lorraine "Lorry" Ann Borowski.
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But prosecutors allowed him to plead guilty on appeal in exchange for a 70-year prison term. The deal allowed for his release this week.
Relatives of some victims were infuriated in 2017 when they learned of Kokoraleis' expected release and delayed his initial parole date.
Records show Kokoraleis was held at the Illinois River Correctional Center in Canton, about 30 miles west of Peoria.
Kokoraleis and his brother, who became the last person to be executed in Illinois, were part of a gang along with two other men. The group was accused of kidnapping, raping and torturing women to death as part of cannibalistic rituals, the Chicago Tribune reports. They reportedly cut off women’s breasts, many times while the victims were still alive.
Andrew Kokoraleis, Thomas’ older brother, was executed in March 1999, the last execution in Illinois before Gov. George Ryan declared a moratorium on the death penalty.
Two other members of the group, including its ringleader Robin Gecht, remain in prison.
The younger Kokoraleis reportedly claimed his confession in Borowski’s murder was coerced and while he was present during some of the attacks, he said he didn’t rape or kill anyone.
The former DuPage County resident is likely to be the only member of the four-man gang who will have a chance to rejoin society.
Some family members said that while they're still disappointed, they've accepted that he will be released.
"We've exhausted everything," said Mark Borowski, who was 14 when his sister Lorry Ann was kidnapped after walking a few short blocks in broad daylight from her Elmhurst apartment to work. "There's nothing else we can do. We fought as hard as we could. I cannot even imagine someone like this could get out."
Lorry Ann Borowski's mother, Lorraine, now 83, said she never envisioned she'd see the day Kokoraleis would be released from prison.
"I thought he was going to be in prison until I died," she said.