CHICAGO (WLS) -- An 80-year-old man has been released on parole after 60 years in prison after he was sentenced to life for the killing of one of three suburban Chicago women whose brutalized bodies were found in a state park.
Chester Weger was granted parole in November and released from Pickneyville Correctional Center Friday morning. He was convicted in 1961 of murdering 50-year-old Lillian Oetting.
"They ruined my life, that's what I've been saying," Weger said. "They charged me for a crime, they collected reward money from two guys they say committed the crime, now they say I committed the crime."
Weger maintains his innocence, despite confessing to the beating deaths of Frances Murphy, Midlred Lindquist and Oetting. In his confession, Weger said he intended to rob the women. Weger later recanted the confession and since has maintained that it was coerced.
The bodies of the three Riverside women were found in March 1960. The case confounded investigators until they determined that the cord used to bind the women's hands matched twine from a spool in the kitchen of the Starved Rock Lodge, Shaw Media Illinois reported.
The 21-year-old Weger was a dishwasher at the lodge and had a juvenile record. Jurors in 1961 convicted him only in the Oetting case but declined to sentence him to death, opting for life in prison.
Prosecutors chose not to try Weger for the two other slayings after he was sentenced to life in prison for Oetting's killing.
The brutal crime still haunts the victims' families.
"I think you cannot underestimate what it's like to grow up with that kind of thing in your past," said Kathy Etz, granddaughter of Francis Murphy. "Not only does it make you afraid of the world and think that bad things can happen, it also impacts the ability of parents to be parents."
Etz is baffled as to why Weger was released.
"The absence of remorse is stunning and I'm so confused as to why the Parole Board would decide this without any evidence," she said.
The Illinois Prisoner Review Board approved Weger's parole after his 24th request for release. He had sought parole since 1972.
And Hale, Weger's lead counsel, released a statement saying, "We are very pleased that Chester was released today into the arms of his devoted family, who have waited decades for this day. Chester was convicted 60 years ago, before many basic safeguards like Miranda warnings existed, and we are grateful that he will is now free, will be able to enjoy time with his family, come up to speed on decades of societal and technological advances, and enjoy other very basic freedoms that he has been without for 60 years."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.