Manhunt continues for store shooting suspect

February 4, 2008 5:42:41 AM PST
A $55,000 reward has been offered for the capture of the gunman who killed five women at a Tinley Park clothing store.One victim of Saturday's shooting was a store employee, and the other four were customers.

Police say the murders were part of a botched robbery.

Police were still limiting access Sunday to the area immediately surrounding the Lane Bryant store near 191st Street and Harlem Avenue in Tinley Park. The other stores in the area reopened Sunday.

There was a steady stream of people coming by the scene of the crime to pay their respects.

Investigators continued to canvas the area surrounding the store Sunday searching for evidence that could help them in their search for the gunman who killed five women Saturday morning. But, at a press conference Sunday afternoon, police refused to comment on any evidence found and on any witness accounts.

"This is an extremely sensitive investigation. We need to keep as much information confidential [as possible]," said Chief Mike O'Connell of the Tinley Park police.

Police did, however, release the names of all five victims: Connie R. Woolfolk, 37, of Flossmoor; Sarah T. Szafranski, 22, of Oak Forest; Carrie H. Chiuso, 33, of Frankfort; Rhoda McFarland, 42, of Joliet; and Jennifer L. Bishop, 34, of South Bend, Ind.

Rhoda McFarland was the store's manager.

"She didn't treat us like she was above us. We always had laughs. If you had a bad day, she would say, 'Ok, we've got to go talk," said former Randi Rexford. "She is a great person."

Rexford also said that little money was kept at Lane Bryant. So, trying to rob it, as it appears was the case, was pointless.

"There was a locked safe in the office," Rexford said. "There was not much on hand at all. Everyday it was deposited, every morning."

The murders have reverberated throughout the entire area. Several people, some complete strangers, came Sunday to lay flowers and crosses near the store. Although police wre limited access, they allowed some of the mourners through to pay their respects.

"It could have been any of us. It could have been my mom, my sister, me. It's just a horrible thing. Anytime there is a tragedy people say they thought it would never happen here, but it just touched me because five people were at work, or were just trying to shop, " said Kim Schaafsma.

Police are still working a composite of the suspect. The description they have released is that of a black male, 5 feet 9 inches tall, 230 to 260 lbs. and wearing a black waist-length jacket, a black cap, and dark jeans.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Tinley Park police at 708-444-5368 and Cook County Crimestoppers at 1-800-535-STOP.

The company that owns Lane Bryant is also in mourning for those who died Saturday. They closed their Chicago-area stores for the day and issued a statement saying: "We grieve for the innocent victims, and our primary concern is for the families and loved ones of those fatally injured." (To view a complete statement posted on the retailer's Web site, click here).