CHICAGO (CBS) — The prison doors opened Friday for “the Starved Rock Killer.”
After 60 years of incarceration for a crime he maintained he never committed Chester Weger is out on parole.
He’s back in Chicago and talking about re-entering a world that looks far different than it did in 1960. CBS 2’s Chris Tye has more from the halfway house Weger will call home. He arrived there shortly before 6:30 p.m. He made no comment and his family said he is happy to be in a halfway house, but he was exhausted from the trip from the downstate prison to Chicago.
“It’s wonderful,” said his niece, Carrie Clancy. “It’s almost hard to describe. It’s been our whole lifetime.”
His first meal of freedom didn’t exist when he was put away in 1960: A McDonald’s breakfast sandwich. Chester Weger’s first night a free man will be spent at a halfway house.
“He threatened me with a pistol and said sign or I’ll kill you and say you tried to escape.”
That was 1980. Chester Weger told CBS’s John “Bulldog” Drummond that his confession was forced.
Watch John Drummond’s Interview With Chester Weger
“It’s wonderful to be out with my friends and relatives.”
The longest-serving Illinois inmate is out, locked up a week after JFK beat Nixon. On Friday, a re-entry into a brand new world.
A life sentence for confessing to the murder of three women from Riverside at Starved Rock State Park, where he was a dishwasher. As a parolee, he’ll live at a halfway house near the United Center.
The #StarvedRockKiller returns to Chicago and a wall of cameras. No comment here — but a documentary crew has inside access to the family. Local media shut out from halfway house property. @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/cWdUgBwxZJ
— Chris Tye (@TVTye) February 22, 2020
He’ll be in the company of other men with similar backgrounds at St. Leonard’s House. CBS 2 learned 10 other current residents have been paroled after being convicted of murder.
And the place has a good track record. CBS 2 uncovered a recent independent report which shows while 51% of male prisoners in Illinois find themselves behind bars again later in life, for those at St. Leonard’s House, that number drops to 16%.
“I appreciate everything that everyone’s done for me to try to get me out of here,” Weger said.
He was released from the downstate facility just before 9:00 Friday morning. When he sees the Chicago skyline, he’ll see the Sears (Willis) Tower for the first time. It wasn’t constructed until 14 into his incarceration.