Aurora mayor ‘blindsided’ by released killer living at Wayside Cross

By Jack McCarthy Chronicle Media

Thomas Kokoraleis (Illinois Department of Corrections photo)

Mayor Richard Irvin said the city of Aurora was “blindsided” when it learned that convicted killer Thomas Kokoraleis would be living at a downtown shelter following his recent release from prison.

Kokoraleis, who who pled guilty to a 1982 murder of Lorraine Ann Borkowski of Elmhurst, notified the Aurora Police Department that he would be living at Wayside Cross Ministries in downtown Aurora.

Irvin has asked the agency to reconsider the decision to permit Kokoraleis to live there.

“I absolutely disagree with Wayside Cross Ministries’ decision to allow Kokoraleis to reside at their facility in Aurora,” said in a statement released Monday night. “While I appreciate the many good things that Wayside Cross Ministries does in our community, their decision suggests that they do not fully appreciate the impact Kokoraleis’ mere presence will have on the community as a whole.”

Wayside Cross said Kokoraleis, 58,  reached out to the agency.

“Wayside Cross Ministries did not seek out Thomas Kokoraleis upon his release from prison. He came to us seeking our help,” according to a statement issued by the agency. “Ours being a Bible-based, Christ-centered ministry, we are mandated by our Lord Jesus Christ to love our neighbors.

“According to Luke Chapter 16, anyone in a genuine need is a neighbor,” the statement continued. “Almost one-third of the residents in our Master’s Touch program come to us immediately after being released from one of the many correctional facilities in Illinois. Some are former sex offenders. We do not discriminate.”

Kokoraleis was part of the notorious Ripper Crew, including his bother and two others. They were suspected in the disappearances of 18 women between 1981-82. Kokoraleis received a 70-year sentence in the murder of Borkowski, 21.

According to laws in effect at the time, Kokoraleis could serve half of that sentence and be eligible for release.

“As a former prosecutor, and later as a defense attorney, I’ve seen firsthand that persons can and do emerge from incarceration changed for the better,” Irvin said. “However, I’ve also seen the opposite unfortunately occur as well. As it stands from my perspective it is a risk the people of Aurora shouldn’t have to take.”

Wayside Cross said many participants have experienced permanent spiritual transformation.

“God’s grace transcends any human depravity and wickedness,” the agency wrote. “Therefore, we hope and pray that Thomas would one day return to society as a God-honoring productive member, displaying the amazing transforming power of Christ. We ask you to join us in this prayer.”