Lane Bryant Shooting: Motive still a mystery 5 years later

February 1, 2013 8:16:38 PM PST
Saturday marks five years since five people were murdered inside the Lane Bryant clothing store in southwest suburban Tinley Park.

On February 2, 2008, five women were shot to death in the back of a Lane Bryant store- Carrie Chiuso of Frankfort, Rhoda McFarland, 42, of Joliet; Connie R. Woolfolk, 37, of Flossmoor; Sarah T. Szafranski, 22, of Oak Forest; and Jennifer L. Bishop, 34, of South Bend, Ind.

In the years since, police have chased leads from Chicago to London, but the killer hasn't been caught.

In this report, we have some new insight into the suspect and why even finding a motive remains a mystery.

The Lane Bryant killer might best be described as a phantom. He appeared that cold February morning at a shopping center along Interstate 80, spent a surprising amount of time with his victims, and then disappeared back into the shadows.

Five women gone -- and five years later, few answers for their families.

"Why did you go in a store and kill these ladies?" said Maurice Hamilton, Rhoda McFarland's brother.

"I think, two weeks after they didn't find him, I had a feeling they would never find him," said Michele Talos, Jennifer Bishop's sister. "I don't know if that's because I don't really want him to reappear in our lives."

For all these years, his likeness -- sketched with the help of a lone survivor -- has been a constant reminder of a case unsolved.

"Somebody who knows and doesn't come forward, they're just as guilty as the person who did it," said Penny Hudek, Carrie Chiuso's mother. "And how you could live with yourself? Knowing there aren't words to describe the pain they've brought to all of these families -- not just this one, but the next generation."

Inside the Tinley Park task force room, where three investigators continue to work the case full-time, there are binders full of leads and information, more than 6,000 in all.

While police don't know who the killer is, they have a good sense of who he is not. DNA and fingerprint evidence recovered at the scene hasn't been matched to any criminal currently in a law enforcement database. He also hasn't been arrested on another serious crime in the five years since.

Police have investigated whether the killer had a connection to one of the victims, because most robbers wouldn't hit a clothing store early in the morning, and they wouldn't stay 40-45 minutes like he did.

"If I were to make a best guess, it was probably a robbery that failed," said Tinley Park Police Commander Patrick McCain. "However, every time we focus on one thing, there's something in there that just doesn't fit right."

"Why did you spend so much time in that store with them?" said Hamilton. "Did you get to know them? Did you know their names? All kinds of questions."

They are questions without answers, at least for now. Together, the families hope one simple tip -- from someone who knows something -- will change that.

"Please, let this end for us. Let's put this behind us. Let Tinley Park end this. Please come forward," said Talos.

There continues to be a $100,000 reward offered to anyone with information that leads to the arrest of the Lane Bryant killer.

Saturday morning on ABC 7 News: On the anniversary of the murders, we'll have more from the victims' families, including how one of them turned this incredible loss into for love for a new profession. He is following in his late wife's footsteps in the classroom.

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