Hair from Starved Rock murders linked to a family

Weger’s lawyer withholding family name, for now

Chester Weger, his family and his attorney Andy Hale speak outside the La Salle County Government Complex on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022 in Ottawa.

A lab analyzing a hair from the Starved Rock murders has traced it to a branch of a local family tree – though a lawyer for Chester Weger has not publicly disclosed yet the family name, sealing it in a recent court filing.

In a recent installment of his podcast of the Starved Rock murders case, Weger attorney Andy Hale reported a breakthrough in the forensic effort to identify a hair recovered from the glove of murder victim Frances Murphy. The hair was previously found not to be from Weger, who was paroled in 2019 after serving nearly 60 years for murder.

Whose hair was it? Hale said that still hasn’t been pinpointed, but a lab was able to trace it to a group of brothers, all deceased, from the Starved Rock region. The attorney is hoping the information ultimately clears Weger’s name.

Hale said in the podcast he would not yet disclose the brothers’ last name – notably, a recent court filing was placed under seal – but he said the family name was tendered to the special prosecutor.

“This proves Chester’s innocence,” Hale said in his podcast. “It is checkmate.”

Hale said an analysis of the hair showed flesh attached, suggesting it was yanked from the man’s scalp during a struggle. Hale further said the brothers’ family name was unknown to him previously, having not surfaced in any record or piece of evidence to date.

While the lab still is trying to pinpoint which of the brothers the hair belonged to – a DNA comparison from the brothers’ descendants is pending – Hale said he doesn’t “think it matters which particular brother this comes back to.”

“It’s time for Chester’s conviction to be vacated,” Hale said.

Hale said he would ask the special prosecutor to agree to vacate Weger’s conviction; but as of Monday there was no companion pleading at La Salle County Circuit Court. Weger’s previously scheduled hearing date of Jan. 10 has not, as of Monday, been moved up.

Hale did not respond to an email seeking additional information. A spokeswoman for the special prosecutor, the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office, said they cannot comment on a pending case.

While the identity attached to the hair is (or will be) new information, opposing counsel previously consulted about Weger’s claims of innocence have said another’s hair does not necessarily exclude Weger from being a party to the killings, nor does it guarantee him a reversal.

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