Justice delayed: Suspect tracked down by I-Team in Skokie teen's murder on trial 27 years after crime

CHICAGO (WLS) -- "I saw something."

With those words quietly spoken decades ago during in an ABC7 I-Team interview, Robert Serritella placed himself right in the middle of an unsolved murder case.

On Monday Serritella, 76, finally came face-to-face with justice-standing trial for the murder of 15 year old David Chereck.

The teenager was found strangled on New Year's Day, 1992, in the Linne Woods Forest Preserve in Morton Grove. The crime scene was not far from his family's home in north suburban Skokie. From early on, Serritella-a convicted sex offender-was considered a suspect in the case.

The first witness called Monday by Cook County prosecutors was Chereck's mother Esther, who offered remarkably composed testimony about the death of her beloved, only child who had been strangled with his own scarf. The boy's father, Allan, died even before an arrest was made in his son's death.

Mrs. Chereck recalled watching a 1998 television interview with the I-Team, during which Serritella disclosed numerous details of the case: the crime, the victim, the forest preserve where the body was found, roads around the woods, and his hope for the case to be solved. He also suggested forgiveness from the Chereck's for the killer of their son, a Niles West High School honor student.

Full interview with 1992 murder victim David Chereck's mother

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In an exclusive interview with ABC7, David Chereck's mother said she'd been waiting for a break in her son's murder case for 22 years.



"I wish to do God's work..." Serritella told Eyewitness News investigative reporter Chuck Goudie during the '98 interview, when asked why he would sometimes wear a priests collar even though he was not a clergyman.

"You're a seeker of the truth, and I like that my friend" he told Goudie in 1998.

Despite the exhaustive TV interview in which Serritella provided a litany of details about the night Chereck was last seen alive, he was not arrested for sixteen years. The I-Team was at O'Hare airport in 2014 when Cook County sheriff's deputies brought Serritella back from Los Angeles where he had been living. From his wheelchair, the man who's alias was "Chivas Regal" repeatedly denied being the killer and walked back the specifics he had rattled off years earlier.

During Monday's bench trial at the Cook County courthouse in Skokie, prosecutors called Chereck's four playmates-now grown men- who he was with on the fateful New Year's night 27 years ago. The friends had gone bowling to ring in 1992.

The I-Team interviewed several of them over the years, and on Monday once again they reiterated seeing a white four-door sedan with black-out windows following them the evening Chereck was last seen alive. Serritella drove such a white car.

During court, the apparently infirmed Serritella watched keenly and took notes, hunched over in his wheelchair.

Judge Lauren Ededin is presiding over the trial that may finish by Thursday.

During opening statements an attorney for Serritella said that there is no physical evidence against him and no eyewitnesses. Two jail inmates expected to testify about incriminating statements made by Serritella are unreliable according to the defense.

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