Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Chicago Rippers

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Within two weeks, investigators had linked the other young woman who had survived an attack similar to that of Beverly Washington with the red van.   She had been forced to cut her breasts with a knife and had been thrown out onto the streets.  The police believed that Gecht and Spreitzer were responsible for at least three such incidents, but they would soon learn about more.

Robin Gecht mugshot
Robin Gecht mugshot.
At first, Spreitzer and Gecht did not yield much useful information, but eventually Spreitzer looked like he would break down.    He seemed to be genuinely afraid of Gecht.  Authorities leaned on him and he succumbed, feeling guilty about what he had done.  Spreitzer's interrogation   produced a 78-page statement.

Jennifer Furio
Jennifer Furio
Spreitzer first admitted to driving the van as Gecht committed a drive-by shooting in which a man died and another was left paralyzed.   Investigators quickly identified the incident.  Then Gecht directed him to slow down to pick up a black prostitute.  Gecht had sex with her and then took her into an alley and used a knife to remove her left breast.  He placed it into the van on the floor.  Spreitzer was quite upset as he spilled out these gory details, claiming he did not like all the blood.  He added that during such incidents, Gecht sometimes had sex with the breast on the spot.  He also described how Gecht had shot a black woman in the head, chained her up, and used bowling balls to weight her down in water.  He believed that she had never been found.  According to what he told Jennifer Furio in The Serial Killer Letters years later in prison, he had watched Gecht batter a woman with a hammer; the sight made him vomit.  But on another woman, he removed the breast himself, cutting off both.  He thought she was dead when he did this, but did not try to find out for certain.  He said that Gecht had forced him to have sexual contact with the woman's gaping wounds.

Andrew Kokoraleis, arrest photo
Andrew Kokoraleis, arrest photo.
By the time Spreitzer was finished, writes Fletcher, he had offered details for seven outright murders and one aggravated battery.   His interrogators were shaken by the aberrant nature of the acts, yet they believed they now had some leverage with Gecht, who was in another interrogation room.  They collected photographs of known victims and laid them before Gecht.  He looked at them without much interest and denied knowing any of the women featured in them.  The detectives then took him to an area where he could plainly see Spreitzer showing something to other officers, but he still did not waver.  He acted as if he had nothing to hide.  Because Spreitzer had clearly implicated him, the detectives found his behavior frustrating.

But Gecht's nearness had an odd effect on Spreitzer.   He suddenly changed his story, as if afraid, and said that Gecht had not murdered anyone.  His account became so chaotic that his interrogators did not know what to believe.  Spreitzer now said that another man, his girlfriend's brother, Andrew Kokoraleis, had been the killer, but he could not offer many details about the man.  Gecht confirmed that he knew Kokoraleis and even provided police with an address, but once again, his demeanor was undisturbed.  He seemed not to know things about Kokoraleis that Spreitzer did. 

Dismayed, the police went to question this third member of the killing crew.   They wondered if three men could really kill together in such a horrendous manner.  They did not yet know the half of it.

Rose Beck Davis
Rose Beck Davis.
It wasn't long before Kokoraleis also confessed.   Bill Kelly relates the details:    Kokoraleis talked about how they had kidnapped women off the streets, raped them, and stabbed them with knives, razors, tin can lids, and can openers.  With piano wire, they then amputated one or both breasts and masturbated onto them.  He admitted to the murders of Rose Beck Davis and Lorraine Borowski, and inadvertently confessed that he had been involved in the deaths of eighteen women.  As he described the assault on Sandra Delaware, he said that he had shoved a rock into her mouth to keep her from screaming, forced a wine bottle into her that made her bleed badly, and stabbed her with a knife.  Her autopsy report confirmed these details.

Along with the interrogations, detectives were also asking acquaintances of the suspects about their characters and personal habits.  It soon became clear that Gecht had a breast fetish, asking girls he knew to let him stab them with pins.  He allegedly forced his wife to endure much more, including infected wounds, although she never turned him in.  But when the detectives began questioning Kokoraleis's slow-witted brother, Tommy, they were in for another rude surprise.  His odd behavior indicated that he, too, had been on this Ripper Crew.  Shortly, he broke down and confessed, adding even more gruesome details.

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