Women get reward in Palatine massacre case

March 3, 2010 6:16:03 AM PST
Two women who helped authorities crack the Brown's Chicken murder case will be splitting a reward of $98,000 for their role in solving the case.

Two men are serving life sentences as a result of these women taking action.

Anne Lockett testified that James Degorski told her he and his friend, Juan Luna, killed the seven victims and that Degorski threatened to kill her if she said anything. For years she didn't tell anyone, the delay in coming forward is what caused so much pain for the victims' relatives.

Jade Solis grew up without her big brother. It's the kind of mourning she is never without 17 years after his murder. Rico Solis was killed with his coworkers and the owners of Brown's Chicken and Pasta in 1993 in Palatine.

In the days after the murders, a reward fund was collected by Palatine councilman Jack Wagner. On Friday Wagner awarded the funds to Melissa Oberle and Anne Lockett.

"She did the right thing by coming forward. Maybe she does deserves it, maybe she doesn't. Obviously someone thinks she does," said Jade Solis, victim's sister.

Solis wishes the victims families had been consulted about the reward money. She only heard about it in the news. Solis says she has mixed feelings about giving the women a reward.

"It could have been given to the family or charity but giving it to these two ladies, I don't think they deserve it," said Solis.

After the murders, the victims' families waited nine years without a break in the case. Years of litigation followed.

Juan Luna was convicted for the murders in 2007 and James Degorski was convicted last year. Anne Lockett, a former girlfriend of Degorski, testified in both trials that she feared for her life but after years of keeping the secret Lockett asked a friend to get information to the police.

"If it was me, I would take a percentage of it and give it to the families of the victims. Waiting nine years, that's a long time. I don't know, that just seems like a long time to wait," said Robert Mennes whose brother Tom was also killed at Brown's.

ABC7 also spoke with Marcus Nellsen's mother and the one of Richard and Joy Ehlenfeldt's daughters. They acknowledged that the nine year delay was painful, but said Lockett deserves the reward.

Councilman Wagner told ABC7 by phone that he consulted with several current and former Palatine officials before giving the women the reward.