(CBS) –– More than three decades ago, the crimes crippled Chicago – young women abducted, their bodies later discovered mutilated in a satanic ritual.
Now, the only member of the infamous Ripper Crew who has been freed from prison speaks on camera exclusively to Irika Sargent.
“Everybody thinks I’m a monster. I’m not a monster,” said convicted killer and sex offender, Thomas Kokoraleis
“They don’t want to see me out there on the streets period,” he said, referring to the family of one of the victims.
In 1982, he was linked to one of the most terrifying times in Chicago.
Kokoraleis, his brother, Andrew; Robin Gecht and Edward Spreitzer, the members of the infamous Ripper Crew, are believed to have murdered up to 20 women.
Their hunting grounds were the city and suburbs in the early 80s.
Driving a 1975 red Dodge van, they grabbed victims right off the roads. Some were abducted in the middle of the day.
Families were paralyzed with fear, hoping their loved ones wouldn’t be next.
The details of the crimes are horrifying. The men tortured and raped their victims for hours, and cut off breasts to perform a satanic communion.
Kokoraleis denied he participated in any of any of that.
The Ripper Crew didn’t discriminate either, abducting women of different races and ages. But as police found body after body across the Chicago area, they noticed those same distinct wounds.
The Crew’s deadly grip on Chicago lasted two years before they were caught.
Thomas Kokoraleis confessed and eventually cut a deal, pleading guilty to only one murder, the murder of Lorraine Ann Borwoski. Her family called her Lorry. She was just 21 years old and snatched out of her shoes in May of 1982.
Kokoraleis denies murdering anyone.
He got 70 years in prison. But under old Illinois sentencing guidelines, known as day for day, he was allowed to serve just half for good behavior.
His brother, Andrew, was the last man to be executed in Illinois. The other two, Gecht and Spreitzer, will likely never leave prison.
But Thomas Kokoraleis is now out and telling a shockingly different version of events.
“I was stuck doing the time for something I didn’t do,” he said.
When pressed in a series of questions, Kokoraleis insisted he didn’t kill anyone and did not participate in ritualistic mutilation or torture.
Finally, he was asked whether allegations of cannibalism were true.
“No,” he answered.
“I look dead in your eyes and tell you the God’s honest truth. No I had no participation, no knowledge and no participation in none of those crimes. None, none.” — Thomas Kokoraleis
Kokoraleis said he confessed to police because he was on drugs, and officers fed him information about the crimes.
Prosecutors said Kokoraleis knew details only someone would know if they had been there.
“No, what they told me. Like a dumb fool I repeated it right back to them,” said Kokoraleis.
He said he felt coerced into confessing.
He even said he has an alibi for Lorry Borowski’s murder. He said he was with his father visiting his mother’s grave.
Kokoraleis said he only pleaded guilty because his lawyer pressured him.
Lorry Borowski’s brother watched a tape of CBS 2’s interview with Kokoraleis.
“He’s a monster,” said Mark Borowski.
As for Kokoraleis’ new declarations of innocence, Borowski dismissed it.
“Seriously? He had no idea? He wasn’t involved? I don’t believe that for a minute,” said Borowski.
Mark was just 14 years old when his sister was murdered. But he easily remembers the last time he saw her.
“I said, ‘I can walk you to work, you know, make sure you’re OK.’ And she says, ‘No everything’s fine.’ ” he said.
FLASHBACK: John Drummond Reports On 1982 Borowski Abduction
Lorry Borowski left her Elmhurst apartment for her job as a receptionist at a nearby real estate agency. When she was abducted, her shoes, keys and cosmetics were left strewn on the ground outside.
Mark, his family and friends passed out fliers for months before the heartbreaking discovery in a cemetery.
“They found her skeleton,” said Mark, sobbing, “My mom and dad, they had to go identify the jewelry. That’s how they knew it was her.”
Kokoraleis’ guilty plea brought a little closure for Lorry’s family.
But his release from prison reopens deep wounds.
MARCH, 2019: Thomas Kokoraleis Released From Prison
“The hurt. The heartache. They should ship him off to Siberia,” said Borowski.
Kokoraleis wanted to live with his brother. But the landlord refused.
He had no where else to go, so he ended up at Wayside Cross Ministries in Aurora, sparking protests from residents and a rebuke by the city’s mayor.
At the same time, donations to Wayside have reached record levels since Kokoraleis moved in.
“I have absolutely no regret in that decision taking him in. But I do understand their concerns,” said Wayside’s Executive Director, James Lukose.
He added that Wayside’s recovery program is exactly what Kokoraleis needs.
“People who come through the program like ours, the chances are much lower for them to get back to prison,” said Lukose.
CBS 2 compared the Illinois Department Of Corrections numbers to Wayside’s recidivism rates.
The state calculates 36% of released offenders end up back in prison within two years.
Lukose says for Wayside’s most recent two-year period, 6% landed behind bars again, or 10 of the 167 men.
And about 51% graduate from the program.
“I love this place. I love the people in this place and they love me,” said Kokoraleis.
He follows a tight schedule, up at 4 a.m. to work. There’s daily chapel, Bible classes and meetings with a mentor.
“I’m much calmer now. I’m nicer. Not mean. I used to have a bad attitude.” Thomas Kokoraleis
Getting through all phases of the program could take up to 24 months.
But Kokoraleis seems to refuse to take one of the first and most important steps, admitting guilt, which Lukose says is the key to successfully graduating from the program.
Kokoraleis said he does and doesn’t see why people have a hard time believing he had nothing to do with the crimes.
He’s not offering much of an apology to Lorry Ann’s family either.
“I don’t want to talk to them … I just want to say I feel sorry for them, feel sorry for them and I’m praying for them,” said Kokoraleis.
Mark Borowski can’t imagine a path to redemption for the man who confessed 36 years ago on tape to murdering his sister and is now taking it all back. Mark is shackled to his worst nightmare for everyone in the Chicago area.
“My biggest fear is that he re-offends,” said Borowski, which he believes will happen.
“100 percent,” he said.
“The guy’s heartless, has no soul,” he said.
But Kokoraleis says everyone must face his new reality.
“They want to see me back behind the bars, permanently. But they got to deal with it. I’m out,” said Kokoraleis.
Now that Borowski has heard Kokoraleis, he is focused on creating a new memorial for his sister.