Reward offered in murder investigation

April 29, 2008 4:23:50 PM PDT
The family of a surgeon from Florida who died after he was attacked on the streets of Oak Park last year is offering a reward to help find the suspects who caused his fatal injuries. Doctor John Connolly was visiting his daughter when he was attacked outside of a church one year ago.

Connolly died three months later while swimming. His death was ruled a homicide because a brain injury he suffered in the attack played a role in his death. His family hopes a reward will bring new leads in the case.

It was a year ago this week that retired orthopedic surgeon Connolly was brutally assaulted in Oak Park. Three months later, he drowned in a pool in his Orlando home. The medical examiner ruled that Connolly lost consciousness because of injuries he suffered in the assault.

The family announced they are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the three assailants.

"We decided that at this point, trying to further the investigation, we will do anything to solve this," said Anne Connolly, victim's daughter.

John Connolly, a 71-year-old retired orthopedic surgeon and researcher was the father of six and grandfather of 15. His tragic death has ripped a hole in the heart of the family

"An absolute treasure, he was a fiercely talented orthopedic surgeon. He was a devoted Catholic, devoted man, just a very good, generous, loving man who had a wife and six daughters who absolutely adored him," said Anne Connolly.

John Connolly was a devout Catholic who attended daily Mass. He was visiting the family for a baptism and decided to take a walk and stop at the Saint Giles Church on Linden Avenue in Oak Park. He was assaulted on the afternoon of April 26, 2007.

John Connolly told police three men approached him from behind and struck him on the back of the head. Witnesses yelled at the offenders, and they got into a vehicle parked nearby. Police are looking for a white minivan with fake wood panels on the sides. They hope the reward will help in their ongoing investigation.

"We look at it as an uphill battle but are actively investigating and will pursue every lead possible," said Sgt. LaDon Reynolds, Oak Park Police.

Three months after the attack, John Connolly lost consciousness while swimming in his pool back in Florida. The medical examiner ruled his death was the result of a brain injury he suffered in the attack.

"This case would and could be a death penalty case. This man was over the age of 65. And that would qualify for the death penalty," said Karen Conti, Adamski & Conti Law Firm.

"We don't know what the motive was. It appeared to be a very senseless, cruel attack on a man taking a walk in a very nice neighborhood in Oak Park," said Anne Connolly.

The family says John Connolly considered it a privilege to care for patients and bring up the next generation of physicians and researchers.

This is the second unsolved beating death in Oak Park. In 2005, UIC professor Peter D'Agostino was killed as he walked home. Police do not believe the two attacks are related.

Connolly diagnosed himself with a head bruise, wrenched back and a few broken ribs that he figured would heal on their own.

The homicide was the Chicago suburb's second of 2007.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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