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Two Years After Park Ridge Murder, Suspect Still Awaiting Trial

Yuron Robinson (Credit: Cook County Sheriff)

Yuron Robinson (Credit: Cook County Sheriff)

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(CBS) – It has been two years since Nikki Mallek’s brother was found in northwest suburban Park Ridge bound and strangled.

And the sister is struggling to find answers and justice.

“It’s just frustrating that it’s taken so long,” Mallek said from her home in Arizona as the family prepared to mark the second anniversary of the death of her brother Henry, known to everyone as Chip.

The murder is the last homicide to have occurred in the city.

“It’s been a really hard couple of years,” she added. “People say when [the trial’s] done it will be closure, but it’s not going to bring him back no matter what happens. I’m not still there as far as accepting it, but I work on it all the time.”

Chip Mallek’s body was discovered on the morning of Feb. 9, 2012 in a commuter parking area along Summit Avenue, east of Washington Avenue. The 39-year-old had been strangled and his hands were bound with plastic ties.

Three days later, Park Ridge police arrested the man they say was responsible. Yuron Robinson, now 36, of Chicago, was charged with first-degree murder and has been held in Cook County Jail ever since, his bond set at $5 million.

Det. John Anderson, who has worked the case for the Park Ridge Police Department, said whether it proceeds to trial could be known in the “next couple of months.” Nikki Mallek said she was told by the lead prosecutor that a trial could begin by the end of the year.

Calls to the prosecutor’s office were not returned.

Authorities say Chip Mallek was killed after an argument over drug money that Robinson reportedly owed him. Nikki Mallek said Robinson owed her brother $700 for a marijuana sale, but she does not believe they were in the drug business together.

“My brother wasn’t a big time dealer or anything,” she insists. “From what I know, he was called out of his house by a group of people and he was going to bring his girlfriend with him because he thought he was going to pick up the $700 that he was owed. As far as after that, I don’t know.”

Detailed reports of the police department’s investigation of the murder are being kept under wraps. Police Records Supervisor Julie Nistler rejected a Freedom of Information Act request from the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate seeking to review the reports. She cited the pending legal proceedings as the reason for the denial.

Anderson said detectives recovered a car in Michigan that Robinson is believed to have been driving at the time of the murder, though he was not the owner of the vehicle.

“The car we recovered was the car that was used in the commission of the offense,” Anderson said.

Police are not looking at any other suspects, though Nikki Mallek believes more than one person was involved. Between $4,000 and $5,000 in cash was also stolen from her brother’s apartment at the time of the murder, she said.

“Obviously the only people who know what happened were Yuron and my brother and whomever else was there. I truly believe there are other people who know what happened,” she said.

Chip Mallek had grown up in Park Ridge and had returned to the area less than three months before his death to help care for his mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He settled into an apartment near Park Ridge at Oshkosh and Olmstead avenues in Edison Park.

“He lived 10 minutes from her so he would go during the day and check on her, make sure she had lunch,” Nikki Mallek said.

One of six siblings, Chip Mallek loved movies, music, poker games and traveling. Nikki once described him as a “nomad,” moving from place to place and spending his last years in California and Arizona. He had a number of friends whom Nikki says have provided comfort to her over the last two years.

“He thought about everyone else before himself,” she said of her brother. “Regardless of what he may or may not have been doing as far as illegal drugs, he had a huge heart and he was generous almost to a fault — and I think some people took his kindness for weakness.”

Robinson, who has an extensive criminal history, filed a federal lawsuit last year against four Cook County Jail corrections officers, alleging that he was choked, beaten and had his head slammed into a door by the officers inside the jail in October 2012, court documents show. Robinson is seeking $100,000 in damages and the case is still pending.

He has plead not guilty to the murder of Chip Mallek.

Nikki Mallek said her family is hoping for a conviction and a life in prison for the man she believes killed her brother.

“The minimum sentence we would like to see for that monster would be the maximum of 60 years to life with no possibility of parole, since the death penalty is not legal in Illinois,” she said.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)