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Where is Chester Weger, Who Was Convicted For The Killings At Starved Rock, Now?

Chester Weger was convicted of killing Lillian Oetting, Frances Murphy and Mildrid Linquist as they went for a hike in Starved Rock State Park. 

By Gina Tron
Chester Weger Hbo

The murder conviction of Chester Weger divided the Chicago suburb of Riverside and even created a divide between the prosecutor who put him behind bars and the prosecutor's son. 

That son is David Raccuglia, a world-renowned hairstylist who spent years investigating the killings in his hometown, which had plagued him his whole life. He grew up fearing Weger, in large part because of what his father told him about the convicted killer. As an adult, he spent years trying to determine whether or not Weger was wrongfully convicted. Portions of his research are prominently featured in “The Murders at Starved Rock” which premieres on Tuesday on HBO Max.

Close friends Frances Murphy, 47; Lillian Oetting, 50; and Mildrid Linquist, 54, were murdered as they went for a winter hike at Starved Rock, a famed Illinois-area park, which got its name from an Indigenous American legend. They were not only beaten to death but each woman was nearly decapitated. 

The killings stunned the community and investigators, who initially assumed the killings were committed by at least two men.

So it came as a shock to many when the murders were pinned on local man, Chester Weger. He and his family have always maintained his innocence and believe he was coerced into a confession. He was 21 at the time of the murders and a dishwasher at the lodge where the women had been staying.

Weger was convicted in 1961 of the killing of Oetting (as prosecutors chose not to try him after that conviction) but jurors rejected the state’s suggestion to sentence him to death. As one juror explained in “The Murders at Starved Rock,” her decision to sentence him to life imprisonment stemmed from her concern that he could be innocent; she said if he wasn’t guilty, perhaps evidence could clear him in the future.

That future is now and while Weger, who is now 82, has not proved his innocence, he is out of prison and working towards that goal. He was paroled last year after nearly 60 years behind bars, the Chicago Sun Times reported earlier this year. While incarcerated, he had been classified as the longest-serving serving inmate in the state of Illinois. 

The LaSalle County state’s attorney’s office has been fighting Weger’s attempts to gain access to evidence in the case which he says could prove he wasn’t at the scene. For example, his jacket was cited as evidence because investigators said there were specks of human blood on its back. But, Weger claims that testing could prove that the specks were actually raccoon blood, as he was an avid hunter at the time.

Just recently, his lawyers got permission from a LaSalle County judge to conduct a forensic examination of the evidence. it’s expected to be tested by sometime next year, according to the HBO docuseries.

After Weger got out of prison, he lived in a halfway house in the Chicago area, and is now at a private residence in the area, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

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