A hair recovered on the glove of a lady who was fatally battered in Illinois in 1960 does not match the hair of the man who was found guilty of the crime. Chester Weger, who served over 60 years in prison for the murders of Frances Murphy, 47, and her two companions Lillian Oetting, 50, and Mildred Lindquist, 50, was released on parole in 2020. Throughout his entire time in prison, Weger has continuously maintained his innocence. Weger and his defense lawyer Andy Hale consider the DNA results to be sufficient proof to overturn his conviction. Hale disclosed the results with Rolling Stone before they were made public on Monday during a court hearing. Hale intends to have Weger’s conviction overturned within his lifetime by presenting the DNA results and other information that he claims exonerates Weger to the states attorney in the upcoming days. According to Weger, it’s fantastic. I anticipated that would happen eventually. Weger, who is currently 83 years old, is a man of few words and suffers from a number of health issues, but he insists that he wants to clear his name before passing away. I’m guiltless, he claims. I was blameless. I want to be freed.

The Starved Rock murders made national headlines in 1960, long before Wegers attorney Hale was even born. The three women took a girls’ trip to the gorgeous Starved Rock State Park, less than 100 miles southwest of the city, in March of that year, leaving their husbands behind at home in suburban Riverside. They were discovered dead, their wrists bound, in a cave opening, having been bludgeoned to death.

Many months later, after the state’s attorney at the time discovered twine in the kitchen that resembled the thread that had been used to bind the women’s wrists, detectives focused on Weger, a dishwasher in the kitchen of the lodge where the women had been staying. After a lengthy questioning that predated Miranda warnings and lasted more than 24 hours, Weger signed a confession in which he admitted to killing the three ladies in a botched heist despite having maintained his innocence for weeks. He suddenly changed his mind and said the police had threatened his life and coerced him into making the confession. However, mostly on the basis of the confession, Weger was found guilty of the murders of Murphy, Oetting, and Lindquist.

Weger has now been rejected parole 23 times, in part because he hasn’t expressed regret for the atrocities and has instead maintained his innocence. He was finally granted parole in February 2020, right before the pandemic lockdown started. Together with his sister and brother-in-law, he now resides in La Salle, Illinois.

After serving 60 years in jail, Chester Weger was granted parole in 2020.
Cristina Alexa

Many speculations about how Weger might be innocent or how he must have been guilty have circulated throughout the years. The son of one of the prosecutors claims there is disagreement among locals as to whether or not they think Weger is responsible for the killings in a 2021 HBO program about the case called The Murders at Starved Rock. Evidence like the fact that he claimed in his confession that he saw a red and white plane fly overhead after he killed the women—a flight that was verified as having taken place—points to his guilt. He also had human blood splatters on his jacket. An overheard phone call between two individuals discussing the murders and a set of bloody overalls that a third party had to dispose of serve as evidence against Wegers’ guilt. There have been admissions made on deathbeds and conceivable mob connections. In addition, there is the question of whether a 21-year-old could have restrained, murdered, and then returned to finish his work shift three ladies while he was on break. Weger quickly retracted this accusation.

In 2004, Wegers’ team attempted to use DNA testing as evidence, but they later dropped the motion when it became clear that the material had been improperly maintained and possibly altered. Hale suggested that they ought to attempt it again because testing technology has improved since then and enough of the evidence has been well-maintained. He refers to prosecutors and claims that they gave me the impression that the situation was a total chaos. You were unable to make any sense of anything. It was just completely false, in other words. Glass “microscope” slides, labeled items, and everything in envelopes are present.

The hair did not provide the complete DNA analysis that Weger and Hale had hoped for. A judge granted Hales’ request to DNA test eight items of evidence from the crime scene, including hairs discovered on the women’s hands and the cave floor, twine, and cigarette butts, according to court papers. The Virginia testing business Bode Technology reported that all but one were not tested. The only piece of evidence that could be tested was a hair that was discovered on Murphy’s glove’s left index finger, the same hand where investigators claimed her fingertip had been severed and never recovered. According to the study, Chester Weger is not considered to have contributed to the DNA profile created from the sample.

Hale anticipates that it will still be sufficient and intends to present his case to the state’s attorney in the coming days. (Rolling Stone has contacted the Will County States Attorney for comment; if they respond, we’ll update.) Then, with permission, he plans to check the hair’s DNA against the CODIS database to determine if it matches a previous offender, which may point to a new suspect in the killings. The last piece of the puzzle, in my opinion, is that his hair is not Chester Wegers, along with everything else I’ve discovered, he claims. He had nothing to do with these murders, in my opinion, period.

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