Directed by Jody McVeigh-Schultz, the HBO miniseries ‘The Murders at Starved Rock’ chronicles the harrowing 1960 murders of Frances Murphy, Mildred Lindquist, and Lillian Oetting, three middle-aged women who were vacationing in Starved Rock State Park, located near North Utica, Illinois. The true-crime documentary particularly focuses on the investigation that led to the arrest and life imprisonment of Chester Weger, the man found guilty by the court of the triple murder.
However, Weger continues to maintain his innocence. This is where David Raccuglia comes in — having seen the case at close quarters, he re-explores the crime that shaped his childhood and also influenced him in his adulthood. Thus, Raccuglia’s perspective is one of the focal points of the miniseries. So, who is Raccuglia and how is connected to Weger? Where is the former now? Let’s find out.
Who is David Raccuglia?
David Raccuglia is the son of Anthony Raccuglia, the prosecutor who ensured that Chester Weger got life imprisonment in 1961. A hairstylist, photographer, and the founder of the brand American Crew, Raccuglia grew up in the shadow of the Weger case. “As a kid, Chester Weger was my boogeyman. I used to lie in bed, terrified that he was gonna kill me because my father was the prosecutor who put Chester Weger in prison for life,” Raccuglia, who ultimately interviewed and photographed Weger in 2003, confessed on the series.
The documentary’s director understood how deeply the Starved Rock murders impacted those belonging to the area, particularly Raccuglia. “It starts in his [Raccuglia’s] childhood, when he sees Chester Weger as the boogeyman. But throughout the early 2000s when he was making his film, which ended up unfinished until we picked it back up, we go through his process of meeting everyone from the prosecution side and seeing the complete opposite side that he’s never heard before,” stated McVeigh-Schultz, talking about why Raccuglia’s stance — which respects the views of his father but also challenges them — is central to the documentary.
McVeigh-Schultz continued, “Then we jump ahead to the point at which we joined the process, and cover the modern court case that took shape … His father really was his hero, and then he spent some time questioning that, probing the holes in this case, and that’s a fraught thing.” For years, Raccuglia wanted to make a documentary about Weger and his father.
The never-seen-before footage from his attempts is finally put to use in McVeigh-Schultz’s documentary which tries to look at all sides — Weger’s, the authorities’, and the people’s — of the story. The miniseries also looks at Weger’s wish — approved by the court as of October 2021 — to use DNA sampling to test the evidence found at the murder site, more than 60 years ago, and subsequently prove his innocence.
Where is David Raccuglia Now?
David Raccuglia is currently managing his men’s salon grooming brand, American Crew, which has been on the market for more than 25 years. He also continues his work in photography and is involved with a number of fashion creatives. With the documentary, Raccuglia, who was deeply immersed in the case as a child, hopes to peel back the layers of fact and fiction surrounding Weger’s incarceration, which has almost become an urban legend at this point.
Raccuglia’s signature black-and-white photography style can be seen throughout the documentary — the format complements his attempt to figure out the truth, through interviews, in a situation that is unfortunately seen in extremes. The Starved Rock murders and the Weger case are almost mythicized in the county of La Salle County, Illinois, leading to several versions of the truth that becomes communal.
Raccuglia has photographed big names such as Adrien Brody, Cedric Burnside, Zooey Deschanel, and Gary Oldman. He frequently gives interviews to hairstyle and fashion magazines and is a trendsetter when it comes to men’s grooming regimens, products, and looks. Raccuglia has always maintained that he’s a hairdresser first and a photographer second; in fact, he does most of the photography for his brand.