The executive director of a faith-based ministry in Aurora that took in Thomas Kokoraleis last week said he feels "very confident" the now-free convicted murderer once associated with the notorious "Ripper Crew" isn't a threat to the community.
James Lukose, executive director of Wayside Cross Ministries in the 200 block of East New York Street, said he spoke to Kokoraleis after Monday morning's Bible study. During the conversation, Kokoraleis admitted he is a sinner and asked for forgiveness, Lukose said, noting Kokoraleis showed a desire to be saved by God and "cried like a child."
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.
Kokoraleis is affiliated with three other suburban men who identified as members of the "Ripper Crew" that abducted and tortured at least 17 women as part of the satanic cult in the early 1980s. Borowski, of Elmhurst, disappeared in May 1982. Her body was found five months later in a shallow grave.
Prosecutors tried to have Kokoraleis classified as a "sexually violent person, "which would have prevented him from being released from prison, but were unsuccessful in their efforts.
He has since registered a sex offender at the Aurora Police Department, police confirmed, and on Friday moved into Wayside Cross Ministries in Aurora.
"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."
Neighbors in the surrounding community have mixed feelings about his presence.
"It’s concerning it's scary," resident Rose Lemos said. "It’s right around the corner."
"They take care of the people there, but they also watch them," Aurora resident Teresa Childress said. "It’s a good place for him."
Almost one-third of Wayside residents in what Lukose calls the mission's Master’s Touch program came immediately after being released from a state correctional facility.
"Some are former sex offenders," he said. "We do not discriminate."
Kokoraleis cannot leave Wayside for the next 30 days, and he can stay at the facility for up to two years.
"We do spot checks on occasion to make sure people are living where they say they are going to live," Auora Sgt. Bill Rowley said. "If we find that someone is outside that compliance then we can obtain charges for violating the sex offender registration act."