Investigators are confident they've got their man, but prosecutors with the Cook County State's Attorney's Office evidently aren't as convinced.
Formal charges that were expected all day against the man in custody in connection with the stabbing death of 14-year-old Kelli O'Laughlin never came
Publicly, investigators are saving face. Privately, they're irritated.
"We've worked a lot of leads and we've answered a lot of questions, and we feel very confident about the case and about the individual that is in custody right now," Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said at a Thursday evening press conference.
In not so many words, Indian Head Park Police Chief Frank Alonzo seemed to deem the case closed.
"I would just like to tell my community that I hope that ... they can rest a little bit easier as far as this crime is concerned," he said.
According to a source close to the investigation, the man in custody, a parolee from Chicago's South Side between 30 and 35 years old, was questioned by an area police agency the night of the murder for an unrelated offense and was released.
NBC Chicago has learned police dogs tracked the suspect's scent from the O'Laughlin home. He took a taxi that evening, a source said, and police are looking for the cab or cab driver to find out whether coins stolen from the O'Laughlin home were used as payment.
The girl's cell phone was also used, sources said, and taunting texts have been sent to the family.
Sources said there are multiple fingerprints connecting the man in custody to the homicide. The killer also left behind an article of clothing which was spattered with O'Laughlin's blood. Sources said that article will be tested for any trace of the suspect's DNA.
O'Laughlin's funeral is scheduled for Friday at St. John of the Cross Church, at 5005 Wolf Road in Western Springs.