Mark Borowski choked up and tried to grapple with the news that the man who kidnapped and brutally murdered his beloved sister is now a free man.
On the morning of March 29, Thomas Kokoraleis – who was convicted of the 1982 murder of Lorraine "Lorry" Ann Borowski – was released from an Illinois prison, after serving only half of his 70-year sentence.
"It makes me feel sick to my stomach that my mother and I feel that we need to constantly look over our shoulder and be concerned about any man who may resemble Thomas Kokoraleis," said Mark, at a March 29 press conference held at the Hyatt Rosemont. "I hoped that this day would never come, but unfortunately nothing more could be done to prevent this release."
Kokoraleis was convicted of the May 15, 1982, murder of Lorry Ann, a 21-year-old from Elmhurst, after she was abducted near a former location of RE/MAX at Route 83 and St. Charles Road in Elmhurst where she worked.
Her remains were discovered five months later, on Oct. 10, at the Clarendon Hills Cemetery in Darien. Her left breast was absent, and there was evidence that indicated trauma from an ice pick, according to police.
Kokoraleis admitted to participating in Borowski’s abduction. While he denied he was involved in her rape and murder, Kokoraleis admitted he was present while his brother, Andrew Kokoraleis, and Edward Spreitzer raped and murdered Borowski, officials said.
Thomas Kokoraleis was convicted based on the accountability theory, which means he was held accountable for acts committed by other individuals.
He was sentenced to 70 years in prison for the murder, but he was only required to serve 50 percent of his sentence, based on sentencing laws in effect at that time.
Andrew Kokoraleis was convicted of the murders of Borowski and Rose Davis, and he was executed in 1999.
Spreitzer was convicted of the murders of Linda Sutton, Shui Mak, Rose Davis, Sandra Delaware and Raphael Tiradao, and he is serving a natural life prison sentence with no possibility of parole.
He originally was given a death sentence that was commuted when former Gov. George Ryan commuted all death sentences in Illinois. Robin Gecht was convicted of the attempted murder, rape, aggravated kidnapping and deviate sexual assault of a woman, and he is eligible for parole in 2042.
The Ripper Crew was known for the abduction, rape, mutilation and murder of several women in cannibalistic rituals in the early 1980s in the Chicago area. The group was made up of Thomas and Andrew Kokoraleis, Spreitzer and Gecht.
At the March 29 press conference, Mark sat alongside his mother, Lorraine; longtime family friend, Liz Suriano; and attorney Gloria Allred. For them, this meeting was about sharing a message of safety, making sure their community was aware of Kokoraleis' release and preserving the memory of Lorry Ann.
Allred said that Kokoraleis is classified as a sex offender under the Illinois Sex Offender Registration Act. Under state law, he has three days to register and report where he lives and his place of employment – a rule he must follow anytime he decides to move. If he fails to comply, he could be convicted of a felony and face prison time.
There have been reports that Kokoraleis will reside in Wheaton, but Wheaton Police said Kokoraleis has not registered with the department and has not contacted the department indicating he plans on registering.
Allred is seeking to protect the Borowskis from Kokoraleis and demands some change in Illinois law to allow for a "no contact order," which would require Kokoraleis to "stay away from them" or face legal consequences if he fails to do so.
"Her murderer is set free and the law does not even require that her murderer be ordered to stay away from her family, who have suffered and will continue to suffer more than anyone will be able to know," Allred said.
Mark and Lorraine echoed Allred's sentiments.
“Everybody’s got a right to know,” Mark said in a March 28 interview with Suburban Life. “Anybody can go on the sex offenders registry and look up where the sex offenders are at and see where they are at, but nobody is going to be aware that this guy’s going to be out, living next to them or in their neighborhood or who knows.”
Kokoraleis has family living in various locations including an elderly aunt and uncle in Villa Park as well as relatives in Kentucky and Ohio, he said.
“You don’t know where this guy is going to go – and that’s the scary thing,” he said. “Me personally, I don’t want him to fall off the map. I want people to know where he’s at. Once he walks out into society, he’s disappeared. And that’s very scary.”
Mark Borowski said he is considering distributing flyers with Kokoraleis’ photo and description to make sure people are aware of where he is living.
Toward the end of the conference, Mark, Lorraine and Allred stood together in front of a table, holding portraits of the late Lorry Ann. Mark called his sister his "morning butterfly," his mentor and his hero.
As for Lorraine, she remembered her precious Lorry Ann as a beautiful, young woman, and like any mother, she loved her daughter with all of her heart. Lorraine credits her faith, along with the support of her family, for her strength.
"I have to forgive him," Lorraine said of Kokoraleis, noting she does not wish any harm on him and hopes that he "does has a good life in his own way."
But, her fight to find peace and healing remains a battle.
"I don't know if there's a chance because it's always right on my mind," she said. "I mean, I live alone and my kids, they're out in the world and you don't know what could happen. It's different if you knew [of Kokoraleis' whereabouts], but we don't have any protection from him."
“We’ve done everything we can. We’ve fought all the fights, the good fights,” Mark Borowski said during the March 28 interview.
“I don’t wish the guy harm when he gets out but, I mean, I can tell you right now there’s not a lot of happy people out there that know this guy’s getting out," he said. “We want to make everybody aware that this guy is going to be walking free."
Borowski described news of the release as “very trying, very stressful.”
“Every time that something comes up that we have to do something like this, we kind of rehash the whole thing in our minds over and over and over again,” he said.
He added, however, that he appreciates the support of friends, family and those on social media.
“Everybody’s been great. Friends, family, people on Facebook. Everybody’s been really, really good,” he said.