(CBS) — Thomas Kokoraleis was part of a quartet of men who went on murderous, sadistic rampage, terrorizing Chicagoland 40 years ago. Today, he spends his days as a free man, waking up before dawn, preparing meals for other men and attending chapel services.
Kokoraleis, who was freed in late March from prison after 35 years for the murder of Lorraine Borowski, 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.
“I love this place. I love the people in this place, and they love me,” Kokoraleis told Irika Sargent in his first on-camera interview since his release.
Kokoraleis follows a tight schedule, rising 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,” said Kokoraleis.
His days are very regimented. He wakes before the sun rises and works in the Wayside kitchen until 7 a.m. Besides hours in the kitchen, he goes to chapel or class. Right now, he is studying the Bible verses in John. For homework, he is assigned to write down eight sentences in the Bible and explain what he thinks the verses mean.
He says he has a hard time writing down his thoughts. It is easier to speak about it.
Kokoraleis meets with a mentor, who happens to be a former pastor, once a week for an hour, and they discuss areas of his life he wants to change. They do that through the Scriptures.
There was one time he became angry, during a cigarette break. He was with another man, who started talking about the Ripper Crew’s crimes, apparently not recognizing Kokoraleis.
Kokoraleis said he he wanted to hit him “real bad” because he was running his mouth. Instead he grabbed his Bible, gave him a look, wished him a good day and walked away.
“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.
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 Lorraine Borowski’s family either.
FLASHBACK: Lorraine Borowski Abducted In 1982
“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.