‘The Murders at Starved Rock’ is a true-crime documentary that explores the 1960 murders of three middle-aged friends — Frances Murphy, Mildred Lindquist, and Lillian Oetting. The HBO show, directed by Jody McVeigh-Schultz, delves into the complicated past and present of the case after the man accused of the triple murder, Chester Weger, was released on parole.
In particular, the documentary uses the perspective of David Raccuglia, the son of the prosecutor — Anthony Raccuglia — that sent Weger behind bars. Naturally, considering the shockwaves the murder case sent across the country in the 1960s and how long Weger spent in jail, many are curious to know where he is now, especially since he continues to believe in his innocence. Here’s all the information you need about Chester Weger’s whereabouts.
Who is Chester Weger?
On March 15, 1960, employees at the Starved Rock Lodge noticed the 21-year-old Chester Weger, who worked there as a dishwasher, sporting several scratches on his face. This was one day after Murphy, Lindquist, and Oetting went missing during their trek through St. Louis Canyon, located within the Starved Rock State Park near North Utica, Illinois. Weger maintained that his scratches were due to shaving and that he had been busy writing letters when the women were hiking.
The bodies of the three women were found on March 16, 1960, half-buried in the snow in a cave within the canyon. According to the authorities, Murphy, Lindquist, and Oetting had been bludgeoned to death with a frozen tree branch that was found near their bodies and stained with blood. The autopsy revealed that all three women sustained more than 100 blows on and around their heads; their bodies had also been partially disrobed and two of them had their wrists tied up with white twine. Similar twines were found in a toolshed near the kitchen where Weger worked.
The police immediately began to keep a close eye on Weger, a married man with two little kids, particularly because of his slightly suspicious past. Apparently, Weger’s profile matched that of a man who had raped a teenager at Matthiessen State Park, located quite close to Starved Rock State Park, just a few months prior to the triple murder, in 1959. The teenage girl had also been bound with twine.
However, Weger passed several of the polygraph tests. But on September 23, 1960, he ended up failing a series of lie-detector tests and landed in hot water with the authorities. He was arrested on November 16, 1960; on the next day, he confessed to the murders and said that the entire incident had been a robbery attempt gone wrong. He even took the investigators to the cave and provided information only the killer could have been privy to, such as the fact that a red-and-white plane flew over the canyon at the time of the murders. The information was later verified by the authorities.
In a surprising twist, on November 19, 1960, Weger took back his confession. He claimed that he had been under duress at the time and that the authorities, supposedly overeager to close the case and pin the blame on him, had threatened to send him to the electric chair if he didn’t make a false confession. Thus, he insisted that he had been fed information about the murder method and the plane sighting so that his confession would be admissible despite the lack of hard evidence.
Where is Chester Weger Now?
Nonetheless, on March 3, 1961, Weger was convicted of the murder of Lillian Oetting and sentenced to life imprisonment with parole. He was not tried for the other charges as the first murder charge itself would result in him spending his entire life in prison. Chester Weger was finally granted parole, on his 24th try, on February 20, 2020, by the Illinois Prisoner Review Board for being a model prisoner; the votes were 9-4 in Weger’s favor.
“They ruined my life. They locked me up for 60 years for something I’ve never done,” said Weger, when, at the age of 80, he was finally released from prison. He had been requesting parole since 1972 and was the longest-serving prisoner in the state at the time of his release. After leaving the Pinckneyville Correctional Center, Weger seemingly met up with his family before heading over to St. Leonard’s Ministries, a nursing home on Warren Boulevard in Chicago. His wife, Jo Ann, had passed away several years ago.
According to his attorneys, Weger is eligible to receive medical coverage, housing services, and Social Security benefits in part due to his military record. “I’m just glad to be out and to be able to walk around,” Weger stated. In an interview prior to his release, Weger remarked, “Why should I feel remorse then if I never killed them [Murphy, Lindquist, and Oetting]? I mean I feel sorry for the people being dead, but I’m not going to admit that I’ve done something I [had] never done.” Thus, he continues to maintain his innocence. It seems as though Weger continues to reside at St. Leonard’s Ministries.
In October 2021, Weger, in an attempt to prove his innocence, won the approval of the court to test the evidence that was discovered at the side of the triple murder in 1960. However, a lot of the evidence “wasn’t stored properly over the years,” as per LaSalle County prosecutors. Clearly, the case continues to be of utmost importance to Weger, who is spending his last days trying to clear his name.
Read More: Where is David Raccuglia Now?