Updated: March 28, 2013 6:43AM
The idea may offend some Tinley Park residents’ civic pride, but the police chief’s suggestion last week that the village hire outside experts to take a crack at solving the February 2008 Lane Bryant killings makes sense.
Police Chief Steve Neubauer’s proposal reflects the frustration that his department has experienced in trying to find the man who killed five women and wounded a sixth in a haunting crime that still has many unanswered questions, most notably regarding motive — despite police being deluged with nearly 7,000 tips over the years and multiple police agencies working the case.
A village board committee seemed receptive to the idea of paying about $10,000 for an outside review, which, considering that the village has spent $1.9 million so far, does not seem like much. Tinley Park still has three detectives working full time on the investigation.
As the chief suggests, a re-evaluation of the evidence in hand by a “fresh set of eyes” might make a difference. Maybe the truth is hiding in plain sight, perhaps an inconsistency or unrecognized connection amid the mass of facts in the many documents.
It’s worth a try, but we must point out that, the 1993 Brown’s Chicken murders case notwithstanding, statistics show the chance of a breakthrough after so many years and so much effort is depressingly low. Despite America’s murder rate declining over the past decade and dramatic improvements in DNA analysis and forensic science, police fail to make an arrest in more than one-third of all homicides (about 6,000 a year), often for lack of witness cooperation.
That’s not the problem with the Lane Bryant slayings. Though some aspects of the crime don’t seem to fit, the prevailing theory of police is that of a robbery gone bad, which means the victims likely were not connected to the killer. That adds exponentially to the difficulty in finding him.
It seems the very longest of long shots, but if spending $10,000 more finds the killer, it might be the best investment that Tinley Park ever made.