The city of Aurora was “blindsided” when a convicted killer recently released from prison registered as sex offender with an address in the Chicago suburb, its mayor said in a Facebook post.
Mayor Richard Irvin wrote the social media post entitled “A RISK THE PEOPLE OF AURORA SHOULDN’T HAVE TO TAKE” Monday evening. Wayside Cross Ministries in Aurora took in Thomas Kokoraleis last week. The faith-based organization's executive director, James Lukose, said he feels "very confident" the now-free convicted murderer once associated with the notorious "Ripper Crew" isn't a threat to the community.
Kokoraleis, 58, was sentenced to life in prison for the 1982 slaying of 21-year-old Lorraine Ann Borowski. After his initial conviction was wiped out, he pleaded guilty on appeal in exchange for a 70-year prison term, and last week he was released from the Illinois River Correction Center outside of Peoria.
"Wayside Cross Ministries did not seek out Thomas Kokoraleis upon his release from prison," Lukose said in a statement. "He came to us seeking our help. Ours being a Bible-based, Christ-centered ministry, we are mandated by our Lord Jesus Christ to love our neighbors. According to Luke 10:25-37, anyone in a genuine need is a neighbor."
Irvin said his concern is the safety of the community and to ensure Aurora is “continuing to thrive.”
“While I appreciate the many good things that Wayside Cross Ministries does in our community, their decision suggests that they do not fully appreciate the impact Kokoraleis’ mere presence will have on the community as a whole,” he said.
Irvin cited his past work as a prosecutor and said he has witnessed how people who have been incarcerated can change for the better—but that he’s also seen “the opposite” occur as well.
“In light of the unspeakable nature of the crimes committed by the Ripper Crew, I would hope that Wayside would reconsider the decision that brought Kokoraleis to Aurora – particularly given the Ministries’ close proximity to parks, churches, and day care centers,” he wrote. “I absolutely disagree with Wayside Cross Ministries’ decision to allow Kokoraleis to reside at their facility in Aurora.”