CHICAGO (CBS)–One of the state’s longest-serving inmates was granted parole on Thursday.
Chester Weger, 80, is serving a life sentence for the March 1960 murders of three Riverside women at Starved Rock State Park.
The Illinois prisoner review board today voted 9-4 to grant him parole. Weger won’t be released for at least 90 days at the request from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. State officials want Weger evaluated under Illinois’ sexually violent persons law. The result of that evaluation could affect whether Weger would live after prison.
All of Weger’s previous requests have been denied since 1972. He his serving his sentence at Pinckneyville Correctional Center.
LaSalle County Prosectuor Karen Donnelley told the board that she opposed Weger’s release. Weger’s sister and his attorney spoke on his behalf. A granddaughter of one of Weger’s victims urged the board to deny parole.
Weger was called the Starved Rock Killer. He was convicted of murdering Lillian Oetting at Starved Rock State Park in 1960. He also allegedly killed Oetting’s two companions, Mildred Lindquist and Frances Murphy, but was not tried for those murders after he was sentenced to life in prison. The three women were found, partially nude, and bludgeoned to death in St. Louis Canyon. Media called it “the canyon of death” and the killings set off a national media frenzy.
In an interview with CBS 2’s John Drummond in 2010, Weger denied killing the women. “I’ve denied it all the time I’ve been locked up. I never killed them.”
He told Drummond he spent his days doing “a lot of reading. I read the Bible, and watch TV. I was a bitter human for years. I got over it.”
Weger said he returned to the scene to reenact the crime for investigators, but says he was coerced into a confession by a deputy sheriff who threatened he would be executed in the electric chair.
In a 2005 clemency hearing, Lillian Oetting’s son, George, said: “The loss of my mother was the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my live. Mister Weger askign for clemency is an affront to me.”