It is a testament to the depravity of the human race that someone who is a fan of true crime can continue to discover so many serial, spree, and multiple murderers. I was completely unaware of Chicago’s infamous Ripper Crew until this past weekend. When I came across the story I knew that I had to share it with y’all.
The Ripper Crew or The Chicago Rippers was a group of four really fucked up individuals who were responsible for the disappearances of at least 18 women between 1981 and 1982. Robin Gecht (28) was the ringleader and his accomplices were Edward Spreitzer (21) and the Kokoraleis brothers- Thomas(24) and Andrew (19). They were all fairly young guys with happy home lives. Gecht had a good marriage with three kids. From all outside appearances they seemed like your average Midwestern blue collar workers.
Nothing on the exterior of these men would lead you to believe that they would come together to do anything more than drink a couple of beers after a long day of work. They were, in fact, behind one of the most brutal crime sprees in the history of the Midwest.
Usually, serial killers have a “type”. Ted Bundy liked slim, attractive, dark-haired, Caucasian women. Gacy hunted young white boys. There’s usually a link between the victims. The Ripper Crew, on the other hand, had no real pattern. It didn’t matter if the woman was a prostitute, a real estate agent, or a housewife. They would take women of any age, race, build, or location. They would take their victims during the day as well as at night. If you were a woman in the Chicagoland area between May of 81 and August of 82, you were a potential victim.
What linked the victims was not what they looked like or who they were while they were alive but they hell they went through before they died. Each of the bodies was found with their left breast cut off along with various other wounds. They were always missing their left breast, though.
I won’t get into the specifics of all of the victims, but I will talk about the more prominent ones.
Linda Sutton was a 28-year-old woman who authorities say was most likely a prostitute. On April 2nd 1981, her body was found near a highway in Villa Park, Illinois due to complaints of a foul smell. She had been missing for ten days. She was found face down with her hands cuffed behind her back. She was wearing a sweater and her panties were pulled down to her knees. Sutton had a little under 13 bucks tucked in one of her socks.
When her body was found, authorities initially believed that she had been dead for weeks due to the level of decomposition her body was exhibiting. However, it was later found that she had only been dead for a few days and the insects and other vermin had gotten into her body through her multiple gaping wounds. The major culprit of this was the massive wound where her left breast once was.
The state in which the assailant had left Sutton’s body shocked the police. They never imagined that she would only be the first.
Almost a year later, 21-year-old Lorraine Borowski was about to open the ReMax agency where she worked when she was abducted. Five months later, her body would be the second in a string of mutilated bodies to surface in the region. Borowski’s body was found in a cemetery. Her left breast was missing.
Beverly Washington was dumped near some railroad tracks. Gecht and his crew must have thought that she was either dead or would be soon. She was found covered in several wounds. Her right breast was mutilated and her left breast was missing. Despite her wounds and the exposure to the bitter Midwestern winter temperatures, she survived.
Not only did Beverly Washington survive the Chicago Rippers, she was able to give the police a description of both Gecht and the van that he and his accomplices used to abduct her. The description she gave eventually led to the arrest and conviction of The Ripper Crew. More on that later in the article.
Why the Missing Breasts?
Man, that is a good question with a series of really fucked up answers. For starters, Gecht had a really extreme breast fetish. He would cut off the breasts, make a hole where it once was, and fuck said hole. I told you it was fucked up, didn’t I?
It only gets worse from there. See, they would kidnap, beat, rape, mutilate, and kill these women. The victims were alive at the time of breast removal. After getting rid of the bodies, they would take the severed breasts up to Gecht’s attic. Once there, they would circle around a table, Gecht would chant some “Satanic” chants, they would jerk off on to the breast, and then they would cut the (presumably) jizz-covered severed breast meat into smaller pieces and eat it as some kind of evil sacrament.
This was all part of some dark occult ritual that Gecht had cooked up. It is unclear if he actually believed that these rituals gave him supernatural powers, but his accomplices believed it did. They said that Gecht was a practitioner of the Dark Arts that had mind control powers over them. That seems like the logical answer to me. “No, I’m I don’t like eating cum-covered severed tit meat! Robin mind controlled me and made me be a serial killing rapist shitbag!” Sure bud. We believe you.
Whether Gecht bought into is own bullshit is inconsequential really. The truth remains that these men visited savagery upon their victims. The occult trappings were just a way to ritualize it. Some reports state that Gecht would read passages from The Satanic Bible but since there is nothing about human sacrifice or eating flesh marinated in baby batter, I call bullshit on those claims.
The Method of Removal
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more fucked up, we’re going to take it a step further. They did not use a scalpel or some other large blade to remove the breasts of the women. Gecht would wrap a length of piano wire around them, twist it tight, and wait for the wire to slowly slice through the flesh.
They did not just want these women to die. They weren’t just occultist cannibals. The Ripper Crew wanted their victims to suffer as much as possible before they died. They were sadists.
Putting a Stop to the Ripper Crew
Even though Beverley Washington was in critical condition when she was taken to the hospital she was still able to find the strength to cooperate with police. She gave them a detailed description of not only Robin Gecht but also the van he used to abduct her and dump her.
She described a red van with tinted windows. A roach clip with two feathers, one blue and one white, hung from the rearview mirror. She even described the plywood partition between the front and back of the van. The police put out an APB on the van and before long they got a hit.
The police spotted and pulled over the van. Behind the wheel was a very nervous Edward Spreitzer. He quickly told police that it was not his van but belonged to his boss, Robin Gecht. The police took one look at Gecht and knew that he was the man from Washington’s description.
Law enforcement needed Washington to pick Gecht out of a lineup but her medical condition would not allow her to leave the hospital. Arrangements were made and a lineup was taken to her hospital room. Washington was able to point out Gecht. The terror in her eyes before she lost consciousness was enough to tell the police that he was the guy.
All throughout questioning, Gecht maintained his innocence. He explained that he was at home with his wife on the night of the murder. To this day, he maintains his innocence in these crimes. The police weren’t buying it. They tossed him in jail on a laundry list of charges. Gecht quickly posted bail. Shortly thereafter, Gecht got the hell out of Dodge.
No Honor Among Rippers…
The cops started thinking that there had to be more to this whole crazy mess, so they decided to pull in Edward Spreitzer and have a little bit of a chat with him. Luckily for the cops, Spreitzer wasn’t as tightlipped as Gecht.
He immediately confessed to not only the horrendous assault on Ms. Washington but also several other crimes as well. This dude was telling the police EVERYTHING. He told them about the women they had attacked and butchered, he told them about the rituals, he regaled them with tales of his leader’s occult powers, and finally he told them about Andrew Kokoraleis. Spreitzer incriminated all of them in the brutal crimes.
Kokoraleis sang like a canary, too. He even gave up his own brother during interrogations. His brother then came in and he told it all too. It seemed like the police had a slam-dunk case on their hands. They had the Ripper Crew and the streets would once again be safe. Well, safe ish. Safe adjacent, maybe.
Look, I’m not saying that you should go out and do crime at all let alone some crazy, fucked up, cowardly, psychopathic shit like these guys did. In fact, I recommend not doing any crimes at all. I’d also like to add that I am glad these sick fucks were caught. At the same time, if you’re going to do serious crimes maybe you should be sure that your accomplices know not to spill the whole fucking thing to the cops. These dudes were just pathetic all the way around. Fuck those dudes and everybody who looks like them.
Where was I?
Oh! Slam-dunk case. They had these bastards dead to rights. They were able to apprehend Gecht and put all four of the Chicago Rippers behind bars. It didn’t work out like you would think, though.
Gecht was never convicted of murder. Even with the testimonies of his accomplices he somehow avoided the murder conviction. He did not, however, avoid a whole shit load of other charges including rape and assault. He was given three 60 year sentences and one 20 year sentence. Robin Gecht will be eligible for parole in 2042. He will be 89 years old. If he lives that long.
Edward Spreitzer was originally sentenced to death. In 2003 Governor George Ryan commuted all death sentences after overseeing only one execution during his time as governor of Illinois. Spreitzer was re-sentenced to 6 life sentences plus 400 years and some change. He will never see freedom again.
Andrew Kokoraleis was sentenced to death. Remember when I said that Governor Ryan oversaw one execution? It was this fucking guy. On March 16, 1999 Andrew Kokoraleis was executed by lethal injection.
Thomas Kokoraleis was sentenced to life without parole. The confession that he gave during the investigation is the only thing that saved him from the death penalty. His sentence was later commuted to seventy years. Thomas Kokoraleis was released five days ago (3/28) and now resides in Aurora, Illinois. He served just over 35 years of his 70 year sentence.
This case is fucked up. I watched a made-for-tv documentary about The Ripper Crew and it even as watered down as the facts must’ve been for TV it was still hard to watch at times. This is a perfect example of how sometimes the most frightening stories are true.