Chester Otto Weger (83) was convicted of a triple homicide that took place in the Starved Rock Canyon in 1960 and served 60 years in prison. For all these years he maintained his innocence. He was released on parole in February 2020. Attorney Andy Hale is helping Chester to clear his name and uncover the truth of the most heinous crime in the State's history that made headlines around the world.
UPDATE August 2022 // DNA results
Rolling Stone — "Exclusive: 83-Year-Old Paroled for Starved Rock Murders Claims New DNA Results Prove His Innocence"
The Starved Rock Murders Podcast with Andy Hale — BONUS: The DNA Results
UPDATE October 2022 // New evidence
Chicago Sun-Times — "Convicted 'Starved Rock killer's' lawyer: Family member might have arranged for Chicago Outfit to kill 3 women in 1960"
The Starved Rock Murders Podcast with Andy Hale — BONUS: The Steve Stout Documents
UPDATE August 2023 // Genetic Genealogy
The Starved Rock Murders Podcast with Andy Hale — "Chester Weger Seeks Additional DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy Testing"
In March of 1960 three women were found murdered in a cave. Frances Murphy, Mildred Lindquist, and Lillian Oetting were wives and mothers who decided to take a four-day trip to Starved Rock State Park near LaSalle, Illinois. They checked into the Starved Rock Lodge on March 14th. Two days later, they were found inside a cave in St. Louis Canyon, bound with twine, bludgeoned, and partially nude. Their faces were mutilated beyond recognition and their bodies displayed to arouse terror in whoever would find them.
Months after the brutal murders, the Illinois State Police zeroed in on a young dishwasher who worked at the lodge, Chester Weger. Despite passing three lie detector tests, the police pursued Chester for months, overlooking other potential leads. They arrested him in November 1960, and after a lengthy interrogation, Chester confessed. He immediately recanted, citing fear and coercion, but the damage was done. In February 1961, Chester’s trial began and less than a month later, he was found guilty. He has maintained his innocence to this day and hopes that over 60 years after the murders, the DNA testing of evidence will prove his innocence. He is the only surviving character from this sordid tale.
Andy Hale, a civil rights attorney who specializes in investigating wrongful convictions, dives deep into parts of the case that have been left out of previous coverage. As Chester Weger's attorney, he is actively investigating the case and has won the right to test DNA from the crime scene for the first time in 60 years.
If Chester is innocent, this will become the longest wrongful conviction case in the United States history.
"I don't want to die with people thinking I'm guilty of a crime I never committed."
Chester likes nothing more than being at home with his family. Here he enjoys a slow afternoon, after a morning full of doctor's appointments, with his sister Mary and brother-in-law Ron in their home in LaSalle, IL.
“I owe it to the people there (Lasalle County), I owe it to my relatives to prove that I never committed this crime…I owe it to my friends to try to clear my name. That’s all I want to do.”
21,646 days behind bars.
Chester was 22 years old, married, and father of two kids (age 3 and 1) when he was sentenced to life in prison.
"Uncle Otto", as his nieces call him, loves quiz shows, funny movies, and chocolate. Due to some medical checkups, he wasn't allowed to eat sweets the day we visited him, but that didn't keep him from offering his donuts to Andy after a successful podcast recording.
Chester's family is incredibly supportive and a huge help in making sure that he finally gets the medical treatment he needs. Here you can see his niece Nita helping him with his eyedrops.
The biggest mistake anyone can make when it comes to the Starved Rock Murders is to think that this is simply a tragic episode relegated to an obscure chapter of 20th-century history that no longer has any impact on any of our lives other than as intellectual fodder for a podcast. Make no mistake, this case is more relevant now than ever. Because, 62 years after the crime, the man who was sentenced to life in prison for the murders is still alive.
All the members of law enforcement who railroaded Chester are dead. All of the jurors are gone. All of the witnesses called to the stand have passed away. Chester’s wife, parents, and many of his closest loved ones have been laid to rest. But Chester Weger has endured.
Wrap your mind around the fact that when Chester Weger’s freedom was taken from him in 1960, John F. Kennedy had just been elected President. Chester went away to prison before the Civil Rights Act was passed, before NASA put a man on the moon, before the Watergate Scandal, before Star Wars opened in theaters, before the personal computer, the internet, the cell phone, the smartphone, and before social media. Sixty years. Chester spent sixty years behind bars...six decades of a man’s life spent in a cell.
And when he was finally released on parole in late February of 2020 it was into a world as alien to him as life on Mars. But within three weeks of his re-entry into the world the globe was gripped by a pandemic and Chester returned to a different form of prison...quarantine.
Yet he has endured. And today at the age of 83 he continues to hold on to hope that his name will be cleared and justice will finally be served. So make no mistake, this case is not simply a story of historical intrigue, this is a living, breathing, active pursuit of justice. And the man at the center of all of this, Chester Weger, deserves to have his voice heard.
Andy heads to Chester’s home and has an intimate conversation with him, his sister, and his niece.
Andy is currently waiting for the DNA results to come back which are expected in late July 2022.
Exclusive: 83-Year-Old Paroled for Starved Rock Murders Claims New DNA Results Prove His Innocence Rolling Stone
Entering a new medium Chicago Lawyer Magazine
"Lüge" (Issue 79) DUMMY Magazine
I am beyond grateful for the opportunity, Andy's trust in my work, and the hearty, warm hospitality I received from the Weger family.