The mayor of Aurora doubled down Tuesday on his comments in a Facebook post condemning a ministry’s decision to take in a recently freed convicted killer and said he has heard much “outcry nd discontent” from thousands of residents.
Just steps away from the heart of downtown Aurora, Thomas Kokoraleis now calls the Wayside Cross Ministries home--and Mayor Richard Irvin wants him gone.
"The citizens of Aurora don’t want this individual living in our city," Irvin said.
Frightening to some is that within weeks, after completing the required 30 days in the transitional facility, Kokoraelis could be walking the streets of Aurora. While he is required to register as a sex offender, some restrictions do not apply.
"When you think about sex offenders or predators who can’t come near playgrounds or be around children, most of those occurred after he was convicted," said Aurora police Sgt. Bill Rowley.
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.
Chloe Sanchez is a student in Aurora.
“Being a female--a younger female--knowing what he did, it’s definitely scary," she said. "I would be really worried if I had children."
Curtis Spivey also lives in the city--the second most populated in Illinois next to Chicago.
"If he weren’t to go here where else would he go?" he asked. "Conceivably some other city or town or municipality would have the same issue."
Kokoraleis was released Friday after serving half of a 70-year prison sentence for the murder of 21-year old Lorry Ann Borowski.
"If you go on the Illinois State Police website, he (Kokoraleis) is characterized as a murderer," said Irvin's chief of staff Alex Alexander. "That has sent shock waves through our community, rightfully so."
Representatives from Wayside Cross Ministries says they understand the mayor’s concern but had a moral obligation to take Kokoraleis in.
“We hope the mayor’s office will also appreciate what we stand for and allow us to stay true to our mission in empowering the afflicted and the powerless through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” the ministry said in a statement.
The mayor says he understands Wayside’s perspective. But while he believes in the power of rehabilitation, Kokoraleis living in Aurora, he says, is a risk his city should not have to take.