starved rock lodge

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On March 14, 1960, the bodies of three housewives, Mildred Linquist (50), Lillian Oetting (50), and Frances Murphy (47), were found in Starved Rock State Park. The bodies were found side-by-side bound with twine and bludgeoned to death with their clothing torn away and their legs spread. 

On March 12, the women arrived at the the starved Rock Lodge, checked into 2 rooms, and ate lunch in the lodge before leaving on a hike. That same night, Oetting’s husband George called the lodge to talk to his wife but received no response. On Wednesday after blizzard-like conditions the night before George Oetting asked the employees to check rooms which were found unchanged and vacant.

The bodies were found in St. Louis Canyon after a group of boys found the bodies near a trail. The bodies were partially covered with snow. As the snow was carefully removed, signs of a violent struggle were discovered near the bodies. Murphy’s camera was found covered in blood. A pair of bloody binoculars that belonged to the women were also found as well as a bloody tree branch. This was identified as the murder weapon.

After months of stagnation, State’s attorney Harland Warren discovered a possible break in the case, the origin of the bloody twine. He surmised would lead them to the killer. The search began at Starved Rock Lodge, both kinds of twine were discovered in the lodge’s kitchen meaning the killer had access to the lodge. Once this was discovered all employees were subjected to polygraph  exams. A former dishwasher, Chester Weger, failed his exams bringing him under scrutiny.

One of Weger’s buckskin jackets was found to have human blood spatter on it. There was also a charge against him in 1959 for rape and assault of a 16 year old. Once Weger was arrested he confessed to the murders. He went on to reenact and confess multiple times over the next few days.

On January 20, 1961, his trial began. The death penalty was sought. On March 4, 1961, Weger was found guilty for the murder Of Oetting. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. He remains in prison to this day, he is the longest serving inmate in Illinois.