Police: Lane Bryant investigation not cold
By Becky Schlikerman, Staff Writer Jul 2, 2009
Tinley Park police recently turned down a request to talk about the investigation into the Lane Bryant killings on a national TV program about cold cases.
Updated: January 27, 2011 3:36PM
Tinley Park police recently turned down the chance to tell the story of the Lane Bryant massacre investigation on national TV.
That's because it was a cold-case show and the Lane Bryant investigation is anything but that, Tinley Park police Cmdr. Pat McCain said.
"We don't consider it cold yet," he said.
"We still consider it a very active case."
More than a year after an unidentified man shot and killed five women and left a sixth for dead inside a Tinley Park Lane Bryant store at Brookside Marketplace on Feb. 2, 2008, seven Tinley Park detectives still work on the case full time, McCain said.
That's a significant decrease from just months ago. In February, police said "a minimum of 12" investigators were hunting for the killer.
At the height of the investigation, 50 officers, including members of the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force, worked on the case. But as time goes on, members of the task force, which is composed of investigators from area police departments, must work to solve cases in their own communities.
Just one member of the task force, an analyst, is working full time on the Lane Bryant case, said Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy, who leads the task force.
A task force commander is "in and out" of the Lane Bryant war room inside the Tinley Park police station, he said.
The task force is "there if we need them, but they're not active in the mix," McCain said.
"As the leads slow down, you need less people," McCarthy said.
And the tips have slowed down.
"If we're getting five a week, we're lucky," McCain said. "We're just not getting the influx of new tips."
A month after the massacre, police had received 1,400 tips. After a year passed, police had amassed 5,600 tips.
McCain said the TV producer called him this week, but he couldn't recall the name of the new TV program she represented.
Meanwhile, the amount of hours worked by investigators just keeps increasing.
Since the shootings, police have spent 38,000 man-hours on the case, McCain said. In the first year of the manhunt, police had worked 30,000 hours, police said in February.
So now detectives are working and reworking those clues hoping to find the gunman with the braided hair who killed Sarah Szafranski, 22, an Oak Forest High School graduate; Rhoda McFarland, 42, the Lane Bryant store manager from Joliet; Connie Woolfolk, 37, a mortgage broker from Flossmoor; Carrie Hudek Chiuso, 33, a Homewood-Flossmoor High School social worker from Frankfort; and Jeni Bishop, 34, an intensive care nurse from South Bend, Ind.
"We're looking at tips once, and (then) we're going to look at them again," McCain said.
Becky Schlikerman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (708) 802-8813.
Tips hot line still operating
Police urge anyone with information about the attacker to contact them. The gunman is described as a black man between 5-foot-9 and 6 feet tall. He has a husky build with broad shoulders and is between 25 and 35 years old. His hair was braided with three to five cornrows pulled back toward the rear of his head. One braid had four light green beads on the end. The man was wearing a dark, below-the-waist jacket. He wore black jeans with embroidery similar to the cursive "G" on the back pockets. The ski cap was charcoal gray in color. Anyone with information about the killings should call the hot line at (708) 444-5394.