Keeping the evidence safe, orderly
BY BECKY SCHLIKERMAN
It is Tinley Park police evidence room clerk Meryle Motz's job to keep the crucial pieces of evidence in the Lane Bryant shooting investigation safe and organized.
Updated: January 27, 2011 3:36PM
Deep inside the Tinley Park police station is a room filled with items that one day may break the Lane Bryant mass murder case. Evidence from the store, from victims and items collected throughout the two-year investigation are safely stored in a separate, locked evidence vault - even the police chief doesn't step foot inside.
One woman is charged with keeping the crucial pieces of the investigation safe and organized.
Meet Meryle Motz, Tinley Park's evidence gatekeeper.
Nine years ago, when Motz took on the role of evidence clerk, she was daunted by the task.
"When I went back there, I was terrified," said Motz, the mother of SouthtownStar reporter Jason Freeman.
She's settled into her responsibilities but always is challenged when it comes to big cases. And there's none bigger than the Lane Bryant massacre. Motz was home when she heard about the Feb. 2, 2008, shootings.
"I was thinking, 'Well, they're going to call me,' " she said.
But Motz wasn't called, as the collection of evidence was handled by Illinois State Police.
Instead, she was "buried slowly," Tinley Park police Cmdr. Rick Bruno said.
As the items collected from the crime scene trickled in a week after the shootings, Motz organized it all.
That included putting items with blood and other organic material into a freezer to keep it viable.
"When we go in, we take everything," Bruno said of the crime scene.
The three shelves and the freezer in the small office-sized room aren't completely full.
"I have some space left," Motz said. "But there's still a lot being analyzed."
All of the items guarded in that room may one day lead police to make an arrest.
Bruno points to the infamous 1993 Brown's Chicken massacre in Palatine as proof.
In 2002, forensic evidence from a discarded chicken bone recovered and saved by investigators linked a suspect to the crime.
The evidence technician knew at the time technology wasn't advanced enough to link the two, but years later technology caught up, Bruno said.
"There's that potential if we don't have it, it could be lost forever," Bruno said. "You want to have many tools in your toolbox."