Weger case: DNA results ready by Aug. 1 hearing, lawyer says

Statement pending from mystery witness who alleges contract murder

Chester Weger appeared in an Ottawa courtroom Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. Evidence from his 1960 conviction will be re-examined in the crime lab.

Chester Weger has an Aug. 1 court date in La Salle County and should, his lawyer disclosed, by then have DNA results back from the Starved Rock murders case.

The Chicago law firm representing Weger, Hale & Monico, had previously confirmed the upcoming hearing before Judge Michael C. Jansz should proceed as scheduled. Now, in a new installment of lawyer Andy Hale’s ongoing podcast, Hale disclosed that lab results should be in hand for that hearing.

“All our DNA results are supposed to come back by the end of July,” Hale told listeners on his podcast.

The first batch of evidence from the Starved Rock murders case is readied for lab transfer Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, with (from left) Chester Weger's attorney Andy Hale, forensic scientist Chistopher Palenik, Investigator Tyson Szafranski and deputy special prosecutor Christopher Koch.

Weger, 83, was paroled in 2019 after serving six decades in prison for the 1960 murder of Lillian Oetting, who was bludgeoned to death in Starved Rock State Park along with two companions. Weger confessed to the murders, but later recanted, and his conviction has withstood multiple challenges and appeals.

Last fall, Weger persuaded Jansz to approve testing of multiple pieces of evidence from the crime scene. These were transferred from the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office in early December. Nearly eight months will have passed before the results are disclosed.

While results are pending, Hale has used the podcast to expound his theory that Weger was framed for the murders, which he said were premeditated and more likely committed by a small group than by a lone individual.

Hale has sought corroboration and thinks he found some from an as-yet-unidentified woman. In the latest installment, a 41-year-old woman described a deathbed confession from her mob-connected grandfather, who claimed Weger was a “fall guy” for a contract murder her grandfather helped arrange.

“(My grandfather) wanted him (Weger) set free because he felt guilty that that man was in prison when he knew who murdered those women,” the interviewee said.

None of this could be independently verified because the interviewee’s name and other identifiers were edited out of the podcast. Hale did say he traveled by air to collect her in-person statement, which would be tendered to the special prosecutor.

The theory that the killings were contract murder is by no means new. Rumors have long circulated that at least one of the women had been targeted for death; but La Salle County prosecutors have consistently rejected such conjecture and the victims’ families have denounced the rumors as pernicious gossip that worsened their grief.

Andy Hale (left), attorney for Chester Weger, and Investigator Tyson Szafranski document the first batch of evidence from the Starved Rock murders Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, before some items are transferred to a lab.