Tinley Park Lane Bryant Massacre Remains Unsolved 4 Years Later

TINLEY PARK, Ill. (CBS) — On this day four years ago, five women were shot to death in a Tinley Park Lane Bryant store.

The gunman has never been found.

But as WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports, the town’s mayor says it’s far from a cold case.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports

“You don’t like to be known as the town where the killing happened at Lane Bryant,” said Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki, who was serving in 2008.

In the incident, a robber stormed into the store in the Brookside Marketplace Mall, in what is believed to be robbery attempt. He took the store manager, an employee, and four customers to the back, and shot them all.

Store manager Rhoda McFarland, 42, of Joliet; Connie Woolfolk, 37, of Flossmoor; Sarah Szafranski, 22, of Oak Forest; Carrie Hudek Chiuso, 33, of Frankfort; and Jennifer Bishop, 34, of South Bend, were all killed. A sixth woman was also shot and wounded.

The killer quickly escaped. Sketches were released, and a $100,000 reward was offered, but they still have turned up no suspects.

The store remained a crime scene for more than a year after the shooting. The store never reopened.

This year, Zabrocki says the anniversary is a triple tragedy – for the families, for the community, and for the loss of Michael O’Connell, the police chief who died last May.

Zabrocki he says O’Connell’s main mission had been to solve the murders.

Zabrocki says they’ve gotten more than 6,000 tips. Last year – they received 150.

And he says it’s not a cold case. But an arrest?

“I’m concerned it’s liable to turn into one of that Browns Chicken thing,” he said. “It may take awhile.”

The 1993 Brown’s Chicken massacre in Palatine left seven people dead, and remained unsolved until 2002. But ultimately, the case was indeed solved, and the killers, Juan Luna and James Degorski, are now serving life prison sentences.

Meanwhile, the lone survivor of the Lane Bryant massacre describes the killer as African-American, 25 to 35 years old, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and well-groomed down to his manicured fingernails. His hair was done up in corn rows with one single braid hanging from the right side adorned with four green beads.

  • Bill S

    Whoever wrote this article should try to read it. Unbelievable juxtapose of words and sentences.

    • Leroy Goldberg

      Realy?? I’m able to comprehend it without a problem……

      “Meanwhile, the lone survivor of the Lane Bryant massacre describes the killer as African-American, 25 to 35 years old, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and well-groomed down to his manicured fingernails. His hair was done up in corn rows with one single braid hanging from the right side adorned with four green beads.”

      Nothing unbelievable about that description.

      • THEE Yard Ape

        @Leroy – as always, I concur !!!!

  • Chicagoan

    The reason it has not been solved is because IMO the lone survivor intentionally gave a wrong description of the offender.
    IMO she knew the offender and either was threatened by him or was in cahoots with him.

    • NWA

      I think I got it! Said the ex-Chicago Cop.


  • disgusted

    O’Connell’s main mission was actually to try not to look too bad because his inept department couldn’t solve this crime.

  • Zatso

    I agree with you Chicagoan.

    As an added footnote, I have called the Tinley Police Department on three occasions with what I considered a tip regarding a patron of the Majestic Star Casino matching the published photo of the alleged killer. They left a message for me while I was on a trip and never returned my subsequent calls.

    Have they yet stated if the killer was a Male or Female? I feel there is more to this case than what has been been revealed to the public.

    As to the police following up on tips, I would have to disagree because of my experience


    • Jack B Nimble

      Yes, I experienced similar with my tip. Plus the police officer who called was extremely rude and acted as if I was doing something wrong calling with a tip. He was actually rude and mocking me — very unprofessional. No wonder they are getting nowhere. Get someone professional and polite and intelligent to work on this case.

      • zatso

        Thanks for your words. I thought maybe it was just me, but I felt that way starting with their dispatchers.

        Like if they knew ahead of time that it wasn’t even worth taking your information because it didn’t fit what they were looking for.


  • Afro

    This was absolutely inexcusable and totally avoidable it was another


    How safe do you feel fellow Illinoisans?

    70% chance if you get murdered they won’t find who did it as only 30% were solved last year.

    you can call Pat Quinn’s office and voice your support for HB 148 Brandon Phelps said he may bring it up again around March and guess what.

    ISRA is proud to sponsor Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day for 2012. Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    Forget the hassle of parking near the Capitol! IGOLD will have buses going to Springfield from strategic locations throughout Illinois. Ride the bus, ride with your friends. This year there are additional buses in the Chicago area.


  • Afro

    We can’t change the fact that this happened but we can greatly lower the chances of it happening again.

  • jr

    Afro, have you ever thought that maybe some victims of gun crime would rather there be even stricter laws on gun control now?

    • Afro

      jr it doesn’t matter how strict gun laws get, the criminal will always have them and they don’t care if they break the law they are criminals now if the victims choose not to defend their life thats their right but don’t impose on my right to protect my self from the armed assailants. Even if gun manufacturing ceased in the US the criminal would make his own in his basement/garage it’s not rocket science they been making fire arms since when? I’m sure a monkey in a garage now days could figure it out.

  • Carole

    I also agree with Chicagoan and Zatso.. I believe that she knows who the killer is, and I also believe, and have from the beginning that this murderer is a female. There is a lot more to the whole story that they just won’t release to the public, and that’s bs. .

    • NWA

      Another retired Cop!


  • Carol McKay

    Anything can happen, but how likely is it that five people are executed and the sixth is only grazed by the bullet meant for them. Then, on the other hand, I think surely the authorities have looked into the possible involvement of the lone survivor sometime during the last four years. It could be that whoever committed this horrendous crime is no longer alive. He/she is not immortal.

  • Mike Fangman

    If some people would stop making up their conspiracy theories long enough to look up Brookside Marketplace on Google Maps, they would see that it is right off of I-80 and I-57 is also in the immediate vicinity. The perpetrator could’ve been 50 miles away in under an hour.

    • NWA

      I like that, “People stop with the conspiracy theories,” and then you go-off and make your own analogy of what might have happened. Dig this, could have been a soldier on leave who went back to war and was killed?


      • Leroy Goldberg

        Or it could just have been you.

      • NWA

        @Leroy Goldberg:

        Could have been me, but at least I don’t go around blaming Whitey for being the majority of the people on public ad, responsible for the majority of the child molestations, rapes (male and female) and, murders. At least I wouldn’t do that.


    • Chicagoan

      Yes it is right off the expressway but the offender went in with duck tape and duck taped the victims.
      This was planned.

  • juju

    do they have sale this week at lane bryant. need to buy some people a muzzle.

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