The biggest mistake anyone can make when it comes to the Starved Rock Murders is to think that this is simply a tragic episode relegated to an obscure chapter of 20th century history that no longer has any impact on any of our lives other than as intellectual fodder for a podcast. Make no mistake, this case is more relevant now than ever. Because, 62 years after the crime, the man who was sentenced to life in prison the murders is still alive.
All the members of law enforcement who railroaded Chester are dead. All of the jurors are gone. All of the witnesses called to the stand have passed away. Chester’s wife, parents and many of his closest loved ones have been been laid to rest. But Chester Weger has endured.
Wrap your mind around the fact that when Chester Weger’s freedom was taken from him in 1960, John F. Kennedy had just been elected President. Chester went away to prison before the Civil Rights Act was passed, before NASA put a man on the moon, before the Watergate Scandal, before Star Wars opened in theaters, before the personal computer, the internet, the cell phone, the smart phone and social media. Sixty years. Chester spent sixty years behind bars…six decades of a man’s life spent in a cell.
And when he was finally released on parole in late February of 2020 it was into a world as alien to him as life on Mars. But within three weeks of his re-entry into the world the globe was gripped by a pandemic and Chester returned to a different form of prison…quarantine.
Yet he has endured. And today at the age of 83 he continues to hold on to hope that his name will be cleared and justice will finally be served. So make no mistake, this case is not simply a story of historical intrigue, this is a living, breathing, active pursuit for justice. And the man at the center of all of this, Chester Weger, deserves to have his voice heard.
In this episode I sit down with Chester, his sister Mary, and his niece Nita.
For more information, documents, photos, and other assets associated with and referenced in episode 6’s coverage of the case, visit andyhalepodcast.com.