TINLEY PARK, Illinois — Eight years after five women were found shot to death inside a Lane Bryant clothing store in Tinley Park, police say they believe there are people out there who know the killer's identity and will come forward to help them solve the case.
Since the slayings on Feb. 2, 2008, investigators with the Tinley Park Police Department have received nearly 7,000 leads, and they still continue to regularly get tips.
"I firmly believe there is a small number of people aside from the offender who know who the offender is," said detective Ray Violetto, a 17-year veteran with the department who's been involved with the investigation almost from the beginning.
Family members like Maurice Hamilton, who lost his sister Rhoda McFarland, say they still have hope that the man responsible will be found. Hamilton tells the Daily Southtown (http://trib.in/1JVwMgd ) that "it's not frustrating" that so much time has passed without an arrest.
The victims' families hope that "someday, somebody will step up to the plate and do the right thing," Hamilton said.
"You just hope and pray they do the right thing," he said.
Along with McFarland, 42, of Joliet, also killed in what police believe was initially intended to be a robbery were Jennifer Bishop, 34, of South Bend, Indiana; Sarah Szafranski, 22, of Oak Forest; Connie Woolfolk, 37, of Flossmoor; and Carrie Hudek Chiuso, 33, of Frankfort. McFarland was the store manager, who wasn't scheduled to work that day but stopped in to help get ready for an upcoming clearance sale, and the four other victims were customers.
A sixth woman, also an employee, suffered a gunshot wound but survived and was able to provide a description of the shooter. Her identity hasn't been released for her protection.
Early in the case, police said that a "very large amount" of evidence was taken from the scene and sent to Illinois State Police crime lab for examination. The "majority" of evidence has been studied, Violetto said, but "we did not receive the results we hoped we would."
Violetto said the goal in any case is closure, not just for those working on the investigation but for the victim and his or her family.
"You always have closure in a case," Violetto said. "We haven't been able to provide them (families of victims) any closure in this case."
A $100,000 reward, most of which was provided by the parent company of Lane Bryant, is being offered in the case.
Information from: Southtown Star, http://southtownstar.chicagotribune.com/