SPRINGFIELD — Chester Weger was denied parole as the Illinois Prisoner Review Board's vote to review his release resulted in a 7-7 tie Thursday morning.
It takes a majority vote from the board for a prisoner to be released, meaning the man who has been behind bars more than 57 years for his connection to three murders in Starved Rock State Park was one vote shy of a parole release.
A member of the prisoner review board wasn't present Thursday, which caused Weger's attorney to protest the vote. Weger also had family members at the hearing in Springfield.
The Illinois Prisoner Review Board typically releases its rationale days after the hearing.
Diane Oetting, a granddaughter of one of the victims of the 1960 murder, said she is grateful Weger didn't gain parole and for the work the board puts into these matters.
"We're pleased parole was not granted (Thursday)," Oetting said. "Keep the families of (the two other victims) Mildred Lindquist and Frances Murphy in your thoughts, as well as the family of Chester Weger."
LaSalle County State's Attorney Karen Donnelly said Thursday she supports Oetting and the victims' families, and she is relieved at the vote.
"I maintain the argument that he continues to pose a threat," Donnelly said.
Last year, Weger nearly gained his freedom; the board’s vote was again 7-7 against parole.
This was Weger's 23rd attempt to gain release from custody. His first parole hearing was in 1972. Weger, who is held at Pinckneyville Correctional Center, remains the longest imprisoned person in Illinois prisons.
On March 14, 1960, Lillian Oetting, 50, Mildred Lindquist, 50, and Frances Murphy, 50, traveled from their homes in Riverside to Starved Rock State Park for a short vacation. Staying at the park’s lodge, they hiked a few miles across trails into St. Louis Canyon.
Two days later, the three women were found beaten to death.
Following an investigation that lasted months, a young dishwasher at the lodge — Weger, a married father of two from LaSalle — was eventually charged.
He was sentenced to life in prison after a jury found him guilty of Oetting’s murder on March 4, 1961, Weger’s 22nd birthday. Weger was never tried for the other two murders.