The 911 call came in at 10:45 a.m. on Feb. 2, 2008.
Tinley Park police were soon at the scene: the Lane Bryant clothing outlet in the Brookside Marketplace shopping mall.
What they found shocked the most seasoned officer: five women with their hands tied behind their backs shot execution style. A sixth woman was shot but survived the attack.
The attack was described by police as an armed robber who opened fire after the store manager called 911. The suspect’s chilling voice can be heard on the recording of the 911 call for the help. The victims were 37-year-old Connie Woolfolk of Flossmoor; 22-year-old Sarah Szafranski of Oak Forest; 33-year-old Carrie Chiuso of Frankfort; 42-year-old Rhoda McFarland of Joliet, the store manager and 34-year-old Jennifer Bishop of South Bend, Indiana.
According to police, the suspect was described as man with medium-to-dark skin tone between 6 feet and 6-foot-2 with broad shoulders and a husky build. At the time of the shooting, officers say he appeared to be between 25 and 35 years old. He was wearing black jeans with embroidery on the back pockets and a dark-colored jacket. His hair was braided into cornrows with one long braid hanging down his rights check with four light-green beads on the end.
Police released a new image of the suspect Thursday created by Michigan State Police based on the original sketch taken from an eyewitness back in 2008. The facial identification technology used makes the police sketch more life-like and ages the sketch to 35 to 45 years old.
Detective Ray Violetto was one of many officers out at the scene that day and has spent a decade trying to solve this crime.
“It’s very hard to look at a victim’s family and not give them the answer,” said Detective Violetto. “I want to be able to tell them who has committed the crime.”
Violetto said the police have received more than 5000 tips in 10 years and says, he knows the answer to the crime is in one of those tips.
“This is an unusual crime,“ added Tinley Park Police Chief Steve Neubauer. “Crimes like this don’t happen around the nation with any regularity. Besides the Palatine Brown Chicken case there was really nothing in this area that matched this case and hopefully never will in the future.
Violetto has studied the Browns Chicken murder case solved after nine years with the help of a new witness and DNA technology. He says that technology has improved greatly in 10 years and hopes it will help solve the case.
“I have the utmost respect for Detective Violetto, “ said Michelle Talos, the sister of victim Jennifer Bishop. “ I know he really cares about the case and he is determined to continue working it, however he’s only one person and I do get nervous that it’s kind of being forgotten.”
Talos hopes the 10th anniversary will spark the conscience of someone burdened by the secret of knowing who murdered the five women.
“It’s time to tell on who it is, “ Talos urged. “I lost my best friend and it’s so painful to have lost a person in your life and to know someone took it from you.”