Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin continued to insist that Thomas Kokoraleis be relocated out of Wayside Cross Ministries and the community even as the downtown agency implemented heightened security around the convicted killer now living there.
On Friday, April 5 Irvin issued a statement — his second in four days — calling for Kokoraleis to be removed from the downtown Aurora center.
“My office has received an unprecedented amount of correspondence from the community regarding Wayside Cross Ministries’ decision to allow Thomas Kokoraleis to reside at their facility in Aurora,” Irvin said. “Consequently, my stance is even stronger given the mass outcry and serious concern.”
Kokoraleis, who pled guilty to a 1982 murder of Lorraine Ann Borkowski of Elmhurst, recently notified the Aurora Police Department that he would be living at Wayside Cross .
That led to the protest from Irvin, who said the city was “blindsided” when it learned of Kokoraleis move to Aurora. It also resulted in protests outside the center. On Friday, around 20 people gathered on the north side of Galena Boulevard wielding signs and chanting in opposition to Kokoraleis’ residency.
Irvin said he and his staff had met twice with Wayside officials.
“Wayside has informed us that while they are still deliberating a solution to address the safety concerns of the Aurora community, they have implemented heightened security measures, including placing a full-time monitor with Kokoraleis and adding safety personnel on the property,” Irvin said.
James Lukose, Wayside Cross Ministries executive director, said his agency needs more time to come to a “mutually beneficial” solution.
“At a meeting of the WCM Board of Directors held last evening (Thursday, April 4), we concluded, after several hours of deliberation and prayer, that we need more time to arrive at a solution that will be both true to the call of our Lord Jesus Christ in accomplishing our Mission and Core Values, while also easing the safety concerns of our neighbors in the Aurora community,” Lukose said in a statement posted to the agency’s web site.
Irvin was not moved from his position.
“While we appreciate these temporary actions, our request remains the same – to expeditiously reverse their initial decision and to relocate Kokoraleis outside of Aurora,” Irvin added.
Kokoraleis was part of the notorious Ripper Crew, including his brother 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.
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 an earlier 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.”
Wayside Cross said many residents and participants in programs 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.”
But Irvin said is skeptical whether time in prison has yet to alter Kokoraleis.
“In an Aurora Beacon News article, Kokoraleis said in his own words, ‘I get angry at times.’ “ Irvin stated. “Clearly, three decades in prison, which included regular spiritual counseling, did not calm his volatile nature. Furthermore, in the same article, Kokoraleis stated, ‘I’m really trying to change my ways, my beliefs.’ “