The Chicago Ripper Crew murders shocked and terrified the city of Chicago, IL, in 1981 and 1982. Four men - ringleader Robin Gecht, Edward Spreitzer, and brothers Andrew and Thomas Kokoraleis - were suspects in the kidnapping, assault, and torture of 18 women.
The men claimed to be part of a satanic cult, and the women were the victims of dark and horrific rituals. They were part of a much larger movement in the 1980s known as the Satanic Panic. America experienced a wave of fear surrounding anything occult, and although most of the scares were false alarms, the Ripper Crew was all too real.
Two of the four men remain in prison for life, one without the possibility of parole and one unlikely to live long enough to see his parole date. The third was the final person executed in the state before Illinois ended its use of capital punishment, and the fourth is eligible for release.
The Ripper Crew made sure their victims died an agonizing death. After pulling a young woman into their van, the four men beat, stabbed, and sexually assaulted her until she submitted. The attacks lasted for hours, and the women were alive for most of the process.
The Ripper Crew's final act before the women died was usually to remove the breasts using a wire garrote. While the men then disposed of the bodies, they saved the breasts for the last part of their ritual: the cannibalistic communion.
Authorities believe the Chicago Ripper Crew snatched between 18 and 20 women from the streets of Chicago. They targeted sex workers, though not all of their victims fit that description. Some abductions happened on busy streets in the middle of the day, where the men quickly pulled victims into their red van.
They took anyone they could find, as long as she was alone and looked vulnerable. Age didn't matter, but one source stated ringleader Robin Gecht's one requirement was the victim needed to have large breasts.
The Ripper Crew reportedly concluded each of their attacks with a cannibalistic ceremony. The four men returned to an altar in Robin Gecht's home, where they read from The Satanic Bible and pleasured themselves into the severed breast. They then cut it up and ate it. Gecht kept whatever was left as a trophy.
On December 6, 1982, the Rippers kidnapped their final victim. They took teenager Beverly Washington into their van and subjected her to the usual routine. They dumped her near the railroad tracks, where someone passing by found her.
In spite of her injuries and massive blood loss, she was still alive. From her hospital bed, Washington gave police the information they needed to track down the red van and the four men involved in the serial murders.