The faith-based ministry in Aurora that took in a convicted murderer once associated with the notorious “Ripper Crew” said it has now been ordered to remove 20 of its residents.
Wayside Cross Ministries said the Aurora Police Department gave the group 30 days to “vacate 20 of our residents who are registered sex offenders.”
“We received this news with shock and sadness, considering our over nine decades in the community, all of which has led to transformed lives,” James M. Lukose, executive director of Wayside Cross Ministries, said in a statement. “These 20 residents include five resident staff members who have successfully completed the Master’s Touch Program, and whose lives have been transformed, along with the remaining men who are on the path toward a transformed life.”
The city had concerns over the group’s proximity to a nearby park, according to its mayor. Sex offenders cannot be within 500 feet of a school or playground, according to Illinois state law.
Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin told NBC 5 in a statement that the city had been in talks with Wayside Ministries over an issue involving maps police were using to determine the building's proximity to a city park. They said they were concerned the building was within 500 feet from the property line of McCarty Park and a portion of the warehouse was within 500 feet of a daycare.
“GIS maps that assist the police department in measuring the distance from property line to property line as outlined in state law, was not actually measuring exactly from the property line,” Irvin said in a statement. “In an effort to work with Wayside Ministries, City staff met with Wayside Ministries, made them aware of the situation and asked that they not admit any additional sex offenders until the issue was resolved.”
In March, Wayside Cross Ministries took in Thomas Kokoraleis, who was released from prison after serving half of a 70-year sentence for the 1982 slaying of 21-year-old Lorraine Ann Borowski.
Kokoraleis was convicted as part of a sadistic four-man group that preyed on young women in the early 1980s. The gang abducted, tortured and sexually mutilated their victims as part of a satanic cult. They are thought to be responsible for murdering as many as 18 women.
Kokoraleis has since registered as a sex offender at the Aurora Police Department, police confirmed.
Irvin previously spoke out about the decision to allow Kokoraleis to stay at the ministry, but noted the issue surrounding the building’s proximity to a park began before Kokoraleis moved in.
“The reason we felt blindsided by Kokoraleis is based on the fact that we had been meeting with Wayside concerning their potential violation of state law over several months prior,” Irvin said.
Wayside Cross Ministries criticized the city’s decision.
“Wayside Cross Ministries has been the only refuge for these men, and has been a beacon of light for over 90 years,” Lukose’s statement read. “Releasing these 20 men into the community without supervision and support is not in the best interest of these residents or the community.”